Exploring Musical Cognition in Children with Specific Language Impairment

Fancourt, Amy. 2013. Exploring Musical Cognition in Children with Specific Language Impairment. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This aim of this thesis was to investigate musical cognition in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and typical development. The studies carried out utilised a combination of standardised assessments and experimental measures to investigate low-level perceptual to higher-order musical competencies. The theoretical framework motivating the studies comes from three broad theoretical accounts that differentially accentuate the auditory processing, cognitive and linguistic deficits in children with SLI, as well as from neuroimaging and behavioural studies showing that aspects of music and language processing rely on the same cognitive and neural mechanisms. Whilst a number of studies have investigated music perception in SLI, this thesis reports the first systematic and theoretically motivated study of this topic. The results from the studies revealed deficits in auditory short-term memory and procedural processing in SLI, supporting a domain general model of deficits in SLI. On the experiments that tested musical competencies, the children with SLI showed relatively preserved processing of melodic contour, implicit processing of musical harmony and appreciation of the emotional connotations of music. Whilst music perception was strongly associated with auditory short-term memory in typical controls, this was not the case for the children with SLI, and an alternative musical information processing strategy was proposed. The findings from this thesis indicate that although children with SLI demonstrate a range of impairments in language and cognitive functions, there are aspects of musical cognition that are relatively spared, and this has important implications for the development of therapeutic interventions.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


neurodevelopmental disorders; music and language; music cognition

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Date Deposited:

12 May 2014 09:41

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:58



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