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Investigating second language learning and musical ability: an ERP study

Narzikul, Kara / M. (2015) Investigating second language learning and musical ability: an ERP study. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Individual differences such as working memory and musical ability are associated with L2 learning (e.g., Slevc & Miyake, 2006). We explored the extent to which musical ability/experience and L1-L2 similarity related to L2 learning using event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Sessions 1 and 2 included L2 grammar and vocabulary training, Sessions 2 and 3 included grammaticality assessments with ERP recording.

Goldsmith’s Musical Sophistication Index (a measure of subjective musical ability on which higher scores suggest higher musical sophistication) correlated positively with grammaticality judgment test performance. ERP data revealed that scores on the Musical Ear Test (MET) for Melody (a test in which participants judged whether or not two similar melodies were the same or different) were related to a reversed N400 ERP component, but only in the first post-test. The N400 is implicated in the processing of meaning, with greater mean amplitudes suggesting greater difficulty with processing and more interference from L1 (Kutas & Federmeier, 2011). These data suggest that, initially, individuals who are more musically talented melodically have an advantage in L2 learning. Finally, there is a large early difference between individuals as a function of MET-Melody and MET-Rhythm scores. Individuals with higher MET-Melody and higher MET-Rhythm scores show a significantly more positive going waveform peaking at 100 ms, suggesting that individuals who are more musically talented process stimuli differently than individuals who are not musically talented, perhaps indicating an attempt to convert visual stimuli into sounds.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Narzikul, Kara / M.kmn42@pitt.eduKMN42
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorTokowicz, Natashatokowicz@pitt.eduTOKOWICZ
Committee MemberFraundorf,
Committee MemberSlevc, L.
Committee MemberTuninetti, Albaalt63@pitt.eduALT63
Date: 21 April 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 April 2015
Approval Date: 21 April 2015
Submission Date: 15 April 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 42
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: individual differences, musical ability, second language learning
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2015 18:16
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 05:15


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