Date of Award

8-1-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Lakshmanan, Usha

Abstract

Previous research has indicated that musicians and bilinguals demonstrate potential cognitive benefits due to their long-term experience with music and two or more languages, respectively. For the present study, such a benefit is examined in the context of auditory inhibitory control. An auditory version of the Stroop task involving pitch and language (as used by Bialystok & DePape, 2009) was used and expanded upon. Separate groups of monolinguals, monolingual musicians, bilinguals, and tone-language bilinguals were established to investigate not only musical and bilingual experience in general, but also to determine if there is an effect of type of language on auditory inhibitory control. Additionally, a contour-based auditory Stroop task (with rising and falling tone patterns) was implemented to investigate a different dimension of auditory perception. Differences in reaction time were measured as indicators of inhibitory control. The results suggest an advantage for monolingual musicians, while a possible language effect may be detrimental to performance for bilinguals on language-based tasks. The results indicate possible shared underlying cognitive resources given the apparent transferable auditory processing benefits for musicians. The implications of these results are discussed, and future directions are proposed to address factors such as age, behavioral vs. physiological effects, and whether the performance of bilinguals is due to the nature of being bilingual, or taking the task in a non-native language.

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