WE INVESTIGATED WHETHER MUSIC TRAINING facilitates the processing of lexical stress in natives of a language that does not use lexical stress contrasts. Musically trained (musicians) or untrained (nonmusicians) French natives were presented with two tasks: speeded classification that required them to focus on a segmental contrast and ignore irrelevant stress variations, and sequence repetition involving either segmental or stress contrasts. In the latter situation, French natives are usually "deaf" to lexical stress, but this was less the case for musicians, demonstrating that music expertise enhances sensitivity to stress contrasts. This increased sensitivity does not seem, however, to unavoidably bias musicians' attention to stress contrasts: in segmental-based speeded classification, musicians were not more affected than nonmusicians by irrelevant stress variations when overall performance was controlled for. Implications regarding both the notion of modularity of processing and the advantage that musicianship may afford for second language learning are discussed.
- ©© 2009 By the Regents of the University of California