Music acquisition: effects of enculturation and formal training on development
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Musical structure is complex, consisting of a small set of elements that combine to form hierarchical levels of pitch and temporal structure according to grammatical rules. As with language, different systems use different elements and rules for combination. Drawing on recent findings, we propose that music acquisition begins with basic features, such as peripheral frequency-coding mechanisms and multisensory timing connections, and proceeds through enculturation, whereby everyday exposure to a particular music system creates, in a systematic order of acquisition, culture-specific brain structures and representations. Finally, we propose that formal musical training invokes domain-specific processes that affect salience of musical input and the amount of cortical tissue devoted to its processing, as well as domain-general processes of attention and executive functioning.
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