Oral Communication

Effect of rhythmic stimulation on language processing (I)

Prof Barbara TILLMANNa

a Centre de recherche en neurosciences de Lyon

In these coupled presentations, we will discuss research that
investigates how language processing can be boosted by prior rhythmic
auditory stimulation. This research integrates partly in a theoretical
framework referred to as the dynamic attending theory, which postulates
that temporal attention is not distributed equally over time, but
changes over cycles. Internal attentional oscillators adapt to external
regularities, allowing the development of temporal expectations with a
modulation of attention over time, leading to processing benefits.
Children with developmental language disorders have been shown to be
impaired not only in language processing (including syntax), but also in
temporal processing (such as rhythm and meter perception). We tested
whether an external rhythmic auditory stimulation (i.e., musical rhythm)
might influence subsequent language processing (such as syntactic and
syllabic processing) in children with Specific Language Impairment SLI
and dyslexia. Children’s performance in a grammaticality judgment task
was better after regular prime sequences than after irregular prime
sequences. Note that the musical rhythm was not directly matched to the
linguistic structure, suggesting that the rhythmic auditory stimulation
taps into more global attentional mechanisms. In an additional study, we
extend the benefit of a rhythmic auditory stimulation on language
processing for a group of children with hearing impairments. Together
with previous findings on deficits in temporal processing and
sequencing, as well as with the proposition of a temporal sampling
(oscillatory) framework for developmental language disorders (Goswami,
2011), the results point to potential avenues in using rhythmic
structures (even in non-verbal materials) to boost linguistic structure