Music, Language and Meaning: Brain Signatures of Semantic Processing
Research report (imported) 2003 - Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Semantics is a key feature of language - whether music can activate brain mechanisms related to the processing of semantic meaning information has remained unknown. We compared processing of semantic meaning in language and music, investigating the semantic priming effect as indexed by behavioral measures and by the N400, a component of the event-related brain potential. Target words that are meaningfully unrelated to a prime sentence elicited a larger N400 than target words that were preceded by a related prime sentence. Our results reveal that target words which are preceded by meaningfully unrelated musical primes compared to words preceded by related musical primes also elicit an N400 effect. This N400 priming effect did not differ between language and music, with respect to time-course, strength, and neural generators. Results demonstrate that both music and language can prime the meaning of a word, and that music can, as language, determine physiological indices of semantic processing.