Working memory for speech and music.

Research paper by Katrin K Schulze, Stefan S Koelsch

Indexed on: 25 Apr '12Published on: 25 Apr '12Published in: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences


The present paper reviews behavioral and neuroimaging findings on similarities and differences between verbal and tonal working memory (WM), the influence of musical training, and the effect of strategy use on WM for tones. Whereas several studies demonstrate an overlap of core structures (Broca's area, premotor cortex, inferior parietal lobule), preliminary findings are discussed that imply, if confirmed, the existence of a tonal and a phonological loop in musicians. This conclusion is based on the findings of partly differing neural networks underlying verbal and tonal WM in musicians, suggesting that functional plasticity has been induced by musical training. We further propose a strong link between production and auditory WM: data indicate that both verbal and tonal auditory WM are based on the knowledge of how to produce the to-be-remembered sounds and, therefore, that sensorimotor representations are involved in the temporary maintenance of auditory information in WM.