Informal musical activities are linked to auditory discrimination and attention in 2–3-year-old children: an event-related potential study

Authors

  • V. Putkinen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Finnish Centre of Excellence for Interdisciplinary Music Research, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    • Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Cognitive Science, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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  • M. Tervaniemi,

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Cognitive Science, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    2. Finnish Centre of Excellence for Interdisciplinary Music Research, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    3. Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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  • M. Huotilainen

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Cognitive Science, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    2. Finnish Centre of Excellence for Interdisciplinary Music Research, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    3. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
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Correspondence: Vesa Putkinen, as above.

E-mail: vesa.putkinen@helsinki.fi

Abstract

The relation between informal musical activities at home and electrophysiological indices of neural auditory change detection was investigated in 2–3-year-old children. Auditory event-related potentials were recorded in a multi-feature paradigm that included frequency, duration, intensity, direction, gap deviants and attention-catching novel sounds. Correlations were calculated between these responses and the amount of musical activity at home (i.e. musical play by the child and parental singing) reported by the parents. A higher overall amount of informal musical activity was associated with larger P3as elicited by the gap and duration deviants, and smaller late discriminative negativity responses elicited by all deviant types. Furthermore, more musical activities were linked to smaller P3as elicited by the novel sounds, whereas more paternal singing was associated with smaller reorienting negativity responses to these sounds. These results imply heightened sensitivity to temporal acoustic changes, more mature auditory change detection, and less distractibility in children with more informal musical activities in their home environment. Our results highlight the significance of informal musical experiences in enhancing the development of highly important auditory abilities in early childhood.

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