Music and Language Development

Dr. Christina der Nederlanden, Music and Language Development

Mentor: Dr. Christina der Nederlanden

Music and Language Development


Project Description

Music and language are two important forms of human communication. Although the majority of research focuses on language-specific skills and abilities, many skills may actually be evident in music perception, too. In this project, the student will examine how individual differences in language and music experience shape the way that an individual hears and remembers everyday sounds. For instance, how does an individual’s native language/accent and musical training predict how well they can memorize new words or melodies? To carry out this project, the student will design an online study, create or record sounds that are relevant to the study design, and will recruit and collect data from adult participants in the greater Toronto area. One of the main outcomes of the project will be a research presentation, both to the lab and at a conference, presenting the student’s findings and highlighting the analyses and data visualization techniques that the student learned in the lab. The project will add knowledge to the psychology of music and language by suggesting how musical and linguistic experience can each shape the way we listen to language. Applicants from diverse backgrounds — especially those with knowledge of multiple languages or accents of English — are welcome to apply. A formal background in music is not necessary for this project, only a keen interest in music is important, for example, as shown by avid music listening.

Mentorship Statement

My hope for this mentorship program is to support a student in developing their own skills in critical thinking and enthusiasm for psychological research. I mentor students through one-on-one meetings to discuss project goals and concrete steps to achieve those goals. However, students also learn best in an environment of teachers and learners, so lab meetings where SROP students can interact with other student researchers will be a big part of the mentoring process. It can be difficult to get a foot in the door to do research in a lab that directly aligns with your interests, it’s even harder to do that when wages for research experiences are meager to non-existent. I am excited to be a part of the SROP program that provides living wages for doing this hard work, which gives opportunities to those who would not have otherwise been able to take the leap into research.

Project ID 744