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Brain Sci. 2014, 4(2), 376-395; doi:10.3390/brainsci4020376

Pitch Processing in Children with Williams Syndrome: Relationships between Music and Prosody Skills

Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, National Distance Education University (UNED), C/Juan del Rosal, n°10, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Department of Basic Psychology, Autonomous University of Madrid, C/Iván Paulov, n°6, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 December 2013 / Revised: 17 February 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2014 / Published: 15 May 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music and Neural Plasticity)
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Williams syndrome (WS), a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder, has been taken as evidence that music and language constitute separate modules. This research focused on the linguistic component of prosody and aimed to assess whether relationships exist between the pitch processing mechanisms for music and prosody in WS. Children with WS and typically developing individuals were presented with a musical pitch and two prosody discrimination tasks. In the musical pitch discrimination task, participants were required to distinguish whether two musical tones were the same or different. The prosody discrimination tasks evaluated participants’ skills for discriminating pairs of prosodic contours based on pitch or pitch, loudness and length, jointly. In WS, musical pitch discrimination was significantly correlated with performance on the prosody task assessing the discrimination of prosodic contours based on pitch only. Furthermore, musical pitch discrimination skills predicted performance on the prosody task based on pitch, and this relationship was not better explained by chronological age, vocabulary or auditory memory. These results suggest that children with WS process pitch in music and prosody through shared mechanisms. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of cognitive modularity. The implications of these results for intervention programs for individuals with WS are also discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: Williams syndrome; pitch processing; music; prosody; modularity; relationships Williams syndrome; pitch processing; music; prosody; modularity; relationships

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Martínez-Castilla, P.; Sotillo, M. Pitch Processing in Children with Williams Syndrome: Relationships between Music and Prosody Skills. Brain Sci. 2014, 4, 376-395.

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