Music and early language acquisition

Anthony Brandt, Molly Gebrian, L. Robert Slevc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Language is typically viewed as fundamental to human intelligence. Music, while recog- nized as a human universal, is often treated as an ancillary ability - one dependent on or derivative of language. In contrast, we argue that it is more productive from a develop- mental perspective to describe spoken language as a special type of music. A review of existing studies presents a compelling case that musical hearing and ability is essential to language acquisition. In addition, we challenge the prevailing view that music cognition matures more slowly than language and is more difficult; instead, we argue that music learning matches the speed and effort of language acquisition. We conclude that music merits a central place in our understanding of human development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 327
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood development
  • Definition of music
  • Emergent modularity
  • Language
  • Language acquisition
  • Music
  • Music cognition
  • Musical development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Music and early language acquisition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this