Processing prosodic and musical patterns: a neuropsychological investigation

Brain Lang. 1998 Jan;61(1):123-44. doi: 10.1006/brln.1997.1862.


To explore the relationship between the processing of melodic and rhythmic patterns in speech and music, we tested the prosodic and musical discrimination abilities of two "amusic" subjects who suffered from music perception deficits secondary to bilateral brain damage. Prosodic discrimination was assessed with sentence pairs where members of a pair differed by intonation or rhythm, and musical discrimination was tested using musical-phrase pairs derived from the prosody of the sentence pairs. This novel technique was chosen to make task demands as comparable as possible across domains. One amusic subject showed good performance on both linguistic and musical discrimination tasks, while the other had difficulty with both tasks. In both subjects, level of performance was statistically similar across domains, suggesting shared neural resource for prosody and music. Further tests suggested that prosody and music may overlap in the processes used to maintain auditory patterns in working memory.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / complications
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / surgery
  • Music*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perceptual Disorders / diagnosis
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology
  • Speech Perception*
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Wechsler Scales