Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name





Brett A. Martin

Subject Categories

Speech Pathology and Audiology


music training, speech perception, speech processing, children, auditory processing, neuroplasticity, listening and learning


Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to conduct a systematic review of the literature that addresses the impact of childhood musical experience on speech perception and processing abilities. Specifically, this review assessed how musical training impacted scores on both objective and behavioral tests of speech perception/processing in children. This analysis contributes to a better understanding of the effects of individual musical experience in childhood on our ability to perceive and process speech in a variety of listening conditions. This analysis also determined the clinical implications of such findings.

Methods: A comprehensive search utilizing the Web of Science database accessible through the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center Library was conducted to identify relevant studies published after 2000. Inclusion criteria included the evaluation speech perception and/or processing in children utilizing objective and/or behavioral outcome measures.

Results: Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria for this systematic review. The studies utilized a variety of outcome measures, which were categorized as objective or behavioral. All included studies found a significant positive relationship between musical experience and speech perception and/or processing abilities in children for both behavioral and objective outcome measures.

Discussion: Significant effects of musical training in childhood were noted across outcome measures suggesting a positive effect on speech perception and processing. Effects on speech perception and processing were noted when both behavioral and objective measures were utilized. Furthermore, studies comparing behavioral and objective outcome measures reported similar findings between the two methods.

Conclusion: The positive effect of childhood musical experience on speech perception and processing abilities is present throughout the literature reviewed when both objective and behavioral outcome measures are utilized. As a result, formal musical training in childhood should be considered as a viable option for auditory training when the goal is improved speech perception and/or processing. The results of these studies should also support the benefit of music classes in school curriculums to help children overcome communication challenges (such as listening in the presence of noise, distance, and poor acoustics) that are frequently found inside and outside of the classroom. Future research should address the limitations of the included studies, such as utilizing a standard musical training program, replicating the large proportion of research on this topic that originated from the Northwestern University Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, and the utilization of a quasi-experimental or randomized clinical trial design.