Scientists of the University of Nova Gorica Study the Way Music and Knowledge of Languages Influence the Cognitive Abilities of Children

Employees of the Centre for Cognitive Sciences of Language from the University of Nova Gorica conducted a study on the influence of music and knowledge of languages on the cognitive abilities of children. Scientists have found that children who speak several languages or have a music education can easily perceive phrases of an unknown language that contain the same words in similar order, but differ in meaning and syntactically.

The authors of the study are the employees of the Centre for Cognitive Sciences of Language from the University of Nova Gorica, Dr. Artur Stepanov and Dr. Penka Stateva, as well as Dr. Matic Pavlič and Dr. Anna Reboul from the Institute of Cognitive Studies (Lyon, France).

The study involved pupils of basic and music schools located in the suburbs of Nova Gorica (on both sides of the border).

A person’s speech is a type of acoustic wave that has its own amplitude, tempo and speed. The pitch, amplitude, strength and duration of individual segments of speech are defined by the term “prosody.” Prosody includes intonation, tone, stress and rhythm. It is interesting that children have a fine appreciation of prosody, especially in their native language. A child is sensitive to prosody already en ventre de sa mere—as soon as hearing ability has developed. Based on the prosodic information, children under the age of two can already foresee the syntactic category of a future word in natural speech and make phrases in an artificial language.

According to the researchers, the hypothesis is confirmed that musicians are best in studying foreign languages. Studies show that the perception of music and language is similar to the behavioural and neuroanatomical points of view.