Music and Language Perception: Expectations, Structural Integration, and Cognitive Sequencing


should be sent to Barbara Tillmann, Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Team Auditory Cognition and Psychoacoustics, 50 Av. Tony Garnier, F-69366 Lyon Cedex 07, France. E-mail:


Music can be described as sequences of events that are structured in pitch and time. Studying music processing provides insight into how complex event sequences are learned, perceived, and represented by the brain. Given the temporal nature of sound, expectations, structural integration, and cognitive sequencing are central in music perception (i.e., which sounds are most likely to come next and at what moment should they occur?). This paper focuses on similarities in music and language cognition research, showing that music cognition research provides insight into the understanding of not only music processing but also language processing and the processing of other structured stimuli. The hypothesis of shared resources between music and language processing and of domain-general dynamic attention has motivated the development of research to test music as a means to stimulate sensory, cognitive, and motor processes.