Previous research has suggested the use of rhythmic structures (implemented in musical material) to improve linguistic structure processing (i.e., syntax processing), in particular for populations showing deficits in syntax and temporal processing (e.g., children with developmental language disorders). The present study proposes a long-term training program to improve syntax processing in children with cochlear implants, a population showing syntax processing deficits in perception and production.
The training program consisted of morphosyntactic training exercises (based on speech processing) that were primed by musical regular primes (8 sessions) or neutral baseline primes (environmental sounds) (8 sessions). A crossover design was used to train 10 deaf children with cochlear implants. Performance in grammatical processing, non-word repetition, attention and memory was assessed before and after training.
Training increased performance for syntax comprehension after both prime types but for grammaticality judgements and non-word repetition only when musical primes were used during training. For the far-transfer tests, some effects were also observed for attention tasks, especially if fast and precise sequential analysis (sequencing) was required, but not for memory tasks.
The findings extend the previously observed beneficial short-term effects of regular musical primes in the laboratory to long-term training effects. Results suggest that the musical primes improved the processing of the syntactic training material, thus enhancing the training effects on grammatical processing as well as phonological processing and sequencing of speech signals. The findings can be interpreted within the dynamic attending theory (postulating the modulation of attention over time) and associated oscillatory brain activity. Furthermore, the findings encourage the use of rhythmic structures (even in non-verbal materials) in language training programs and outline perspectives for rehabilitation.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Rhythm, Music, Syntax, Cochlear implant, Temporal attention, Rehabilitation