The contribution of expertise on musical and phonological processing
The goal of the present study was twofold, it 1) sought to investigate whether musical information is processed by the phonological loop, a component of working memory, and 2) explored whether musical expertise affects the degree to which this component is involved in the processing of this information. In order to investigate this issue, an auditory interference task was employed using musicians and non-musicians. Specifically, participants heard an initial stimulus (chord or word), followed by intervening stimuli (chords, words, or silence), and were then asked to indicate whether a final test stimulus was the same or different from that of the initial stimulus. It was predicted that as one becomes an expert in music, neural resources that are used to process phonological information would begin to process musical information to a larger degree. This would result in more interference for musicians in conditions in which cross modal interference (chords interfere with to-be-remembered words and vice versa) occurs as compared to non-musicians. Contrary to the expertise hypothesis, results indicated that musicians, as compared to non-musicians, had a larger relative difference between matched (i.e., music – music; words – words) and mismatched (i.e., music – words, words – music) conditions. This suggests that for non-musicians, the phonological loop may coopt the processing of both phonological and musical information. On the other hand, with expertise in music there seems to be distinct processing of the two different modalities as opposed to the greater recruitment of the processing of musical information within working memory.
Human information processing