Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Margaret L. Greenwald

Abstract

This dissertation explored the translation from print to sound of the tonal language Mandarin versus English versus musical notation in healthy volunteers. The performance of musicians and non-musicians was compared across a variety of reading tasks in an attempt to examine whether musical training can facilitate Mandarin tone or phonological processing. The effects of increasing working memory load on reading performance across tasks were also examined. Results showed that increasing demands on working memory in visual recognition tasks significantly decreased performance accuracy for both musicians and non-musicians across tasks. Significant differences in accuracy rates were observed between musicians and non-musicians. Although the tonal information in Mandarin is embedded in phonological information, the current study provided evidence that musicians are better able to extract this tonal information from print than are non-musicians, or to maintain it in working memory. Even in the Mandarin homophone task, which requires phonological judgments of print, the musicians demonstrated superior performance. The current study provides evidence that musical training facilitates phonological language processing.