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Language and Music as Cognitive Systems

Edited by Patrick Rebuschat, Martin Rohmeier, John A. Hawkins, and Ian Cross

Publication Date - 13 January 2012

ISBN: 9780199553426

356 pages
9.2 x 6.1 inches


The past 15 years have witnessed an increasing interest in the comparative study of language and music as cognitive systems. Language and music are uniquely human traits, so it is not surprising that this interest spans practically all branches of cognitive science, including psychology, computer science, linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and education. Underlying the study of language and music is the assumption that the comparison of these two domains can shed light on the structural and functional properties of each, while also serving as a test case for theories of how the mind and, ultimately, the brain work.

This book presents an interdisciplinary study of language and music, bringing together a team of leading specialists across these fields. The volume is structured around four core areas in which the study of music and language has been particularly fruitful: (i) structural comparisons, (ii) evolution, (iii) learning and processing, and (iv) neuroscience. As such it provides a snapshot of the different research strands that have focused on language and music, identifying current trends and methodologies that have been (or could be) applied to the study of both domains, and outlining future research directions. This volume is valuable in promoting the investigation of language and music by fostering interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration.

With an ever increasing interest in both music cognition and language, this book will be valuable for students and researchers of psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, and musicology.


  • Comparative studies of music and language have been growing in number in the past decade - this is the first edited volume to explore this burgeoning field
  • Presents an interdisciplinary review, bringing together leading specialists from the cognitive and brain sciences and humanities

About the Author(s)

Patrick Rebuschat is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University. He obtained a PhD in English & Applied Linguistics from the University of Cambridge in 2008. His research focuses on the cognitive aspects underlying second language acquisition and processing. He is the editor of a forthcoming volume on Statistical Learning and Language Acquisition (with John Williams, de Gruyter).

Table of Contents

    1. Preface
    2. Editors' General Introduction to the Volume
    Structural Comparisons
    3. Editors' introduction to section
    4. Target article 1, Morris Halle and Nigel Fabb
    5. Commentary, Laura Dilley and Devin McAuley
    6. Commentary, Brechtje Post
    7. Commentary, Bert Vaux
    8. Commentary, Ian Roberts
    9. Reply to comments, Morris Halle and Nigel Fabb
    10. Editors' introduction to section
    11. Target Article 2, W. Tecumseh Fitch
    12. Commentary, Simon Kirby
    13. Commentary, Steven Mithen
    14. Commentary, Iain Morley
    15. Commentary, Elizabeth Tolbert
    16. Reply to comments, W. Tecumseh Fitch
    Learning and Processing
    17. Editors' introduction to section
    18. Target Article 3, Jamshed Bharucha, Meagan Curtis, and Kaivon Paroo
    19. Commentary, Zoltan Dienes, Catherine Jones, Gustav Kuhn, and Guo Xiuyan
    20. Commentary, Geraint Wiggins
    21. Commentary, John Willams
    22. Reply to comments, Jamshed Bharucha
    23. Editors' introduction to section
    24. Target Article 4, Aniruddh Patel
    25. Commentary, Stefan Koelsch
    26. Commentary, Jessican Grahn
    27. Commentary, Justin London
    28. Reply to comments, Aniruddh Patel
    29. Target Article 5, Isabelle Peretz
    30. Commentary, Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus
    31. Commentary, Mireille Besson and Daniele Schon
    32. Commentary, Usha Goswami
    33. Commentary, Leigh VanHandel, Jennie L. Wakefield, and Wendy Wilkins
    34. Reply to comments, Isabelle Peretz
    35. Conclusion, Ian Cross