Re: Musical Language was:(Re: DIPLOMACY: Memetic Morphing)

Anders Sandberg (
16 Nov 1998 17:55:10 +0100

"Max M" <> writes:

> From: Patrick Wilken <>
> >There was a recent article in Nature/Science suggesting that music training
> >in childhood permanently raised verbal IQ. I haven't read the article so
> >can't comment, but it seemed to have surface plausibity. The argument that
> >similar (same?) areas of the brain are used by both.
> As a long time musician (+15 Years) I am absolutely convinced that music is
> no more than a stylised abstraction of the human language!
> Music consists of rythm, tone and pitch. When I hear my kids learning to
> speak they don't say the words right at first, but the rythm, tone and pitch
> is in place long before that.

As a neuroscientist (a theoretical, computational one) I also agree with Max's statement. It seems to fit quite well with the lesions producing amusia being located in the right superior temporal lobe, roughly corresponding to the language-related cortex in the left hemisphere. A guess may be that we use the higher auditory cortices on the right side for rhythm, tone, pitch and likely some emotional content of speech and sound, and this is then specialized for music (just as we have some reading-related cortex in the temporo-occipital region behind Wernicke's area).

(everything modulo cortical lateralization, of course. Sorry for the anatomese. I'm starting to sound like Eugene :-)

Back to the main question: does the training increase intelligence? I haven't got any new hard evidence to add, but I would guess it is likely. Training, attention, the development of personal skills in general seems to promote intelligence.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y