Music rhythm as a window to understanding developmental speech and language disorders:

The processing rhythm in speech and music framework


Anna Fiveash1,2, Nathalie Bedoin1,2,3, Reyna L. Gordon 4,5,6,7, and Barbara Tillmann1,2

1 Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, CNRS, Lyon, France

2 University of Lyon 1, Lyon, France

3 University of Lyon 2, Lyon, France

4Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA


Music and speech are complex signals containing regularities in how they unfold in time. Similarities between music and speech/language in terms of their auditory features, rhythmic structure, and hierarchical structure have led to a large body of literature suggesting connections between the two domains. However, the precise underlying mechanisms behind this connection remain to be elucidated. Based on structural similarities of rhythmic signals in music and speech, prominent music and speech rhythm theories, and previously reported impaired timing in developmental speech and language disorders, we propose the processing rhythm in speech and music (PRISM) framework. PRISM outlines three underlying mechanisms that appear to be shared across music and speech/language processing: Precise auditory processing, synchronization/entrainment of neural oscillations to external stimuli, and sensorimotor coupling. The current framework can be used as a basis to investigate potential links between observed timing deficits in developmental disorders (focusing here on dyslexia, developmental language disorder, and stuttering), impairments in the proposed mechanisms, and pathology-specific deficits which can be targeted in treatment and training supporting speech therapy outcomes. In this talk, I will outline the PRISM framework and its links with developmental speech and language disorders, as well as discuss future research directions and implications of this framework.