Recent evidence suggests the existence of shared neural resources for rhythm processing in language and music. Such overlaps could be the basis of the facilitating effect of regular musical rhythm on spoken word processing previously reported for typical children and adults, as well as adults with Parkinson’s disease and children with developmental language disorders. The present study builds upon these previous findings by examining whether non-linguistic rhythmic priming also influences visual word processing, and the extent to which such cross-modal priming effect of rhythm is related to individual differences in musical aptitude and reading skills. An electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded while participants listened to a rhythmic tone prime, followed by a visual target word with a stress pattern that either matched or mismatched the rhythmic structure of the auditory prime. Participants were also administered standardized assessments of musical aptitude and reading achievement. Event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by target words with a mismatching stress pattern showed an increased fronto-central negativity. Additionally, the size of the negative effect correlated with individual differences in musical rhythm aptitude and reading comprehension skills. Results support the existence of shared neurocognitive resources for linguistic and musical rhythm processing, and have important implications for the use of rhythm-based activities for reading interventions.
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