Research Topic

Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Construction and Development of Language and Music Networks

About this Research Topic

Researchers are still intrigued by the relationship between music and language. Previous Research Topics have focused on understanding questions ranging from the effects of musical training on speech perception to the neural overlap for processing speech and music to how overlapping neural structures for music and language are affected by developmental trajectories. While much of this research has focused on the extent of neural overlap between music and speech, neural homologs and analogs for music and language, and shared processes during developmental stages, much less research exists on the neurobiological architecture (i.e. biomarkers and genetic contributions) leading to the development of neural systems for music and language. Moreover, despite recognition that heritability of music and language skills exists, little is known about how these neural systems may influence an individual’s experience within, and the effects of, complex acoustic environments such as multilingualism and musical training.

Nonetheless, the field is well poised to address key empirical questions, in part because of the recent development of new genetic and interdisciplinary approaches and technological advancements able to map neural networks varying in resolution and elucidate how these networks represent our cognition and perception along multiple developmental timepoints. To better understand the genetic contributions and effects of complex acoustic environments on multiple aspects of language development, research is needed to identify those specific functions of each that influence the other, with areas for rhythmicity and pitch having already been targeted. Research is also needed to identify the extent to which genetic contributions affect early development of language networks and the specific processes that occur when these systems are altered throughout development as a result of learning and/or training.

For this Research Topic, we would like to further explore the relationship between language and music from two perspectives: 1) understanding the role of genetic contributions towards the representation and processing of shared components of music and language and 2) understanding the developmental trajectory of these contributions and how they interact with, or affect the outcome(s) of, an individual’s exposure to complex acoustic environments (e.g. multilingualism and musical training). We seek to gather the following types of articles: technically diverse original research, systematic review, methods, review, hypothesis and theory, and perspective articles that present new empirical findings and theories relevant to understanding:

• Shared versus separate neural and genetic architecture of language and music in children and adults using gene expression methods.
• How genetic contributions limit or constrain experiences within complex acoustic environments, such as musical training, thus affecting the learning and trainability of the individual.
• How neural networks for language change over time due to exposure to, and experiences within, complex acoustic environments at various developmental stages.


Keywords: Language acquisition, Musical training, Rhythm, Language development, Music cognition


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Researchers are still intrigued by the relationship between music and language. Previous Research Topics have focused on understanding questions ranging from the effects of musical training on speech perception to the neural overlap for processing speech and music to how overlapping neural structures for music and language are affected by developmental trajectories. While much of this research has focused on the extent of neural overlap between music and speech, neural homologs and analogs for music and language, and shared processes during developmental stages, much less research exists on the neurobiological architecture (i.e. biomarkers and genetic contributions) leading to the development of neural systems for music and language. Moreover, despite recognition that heritability of music and language skills exists, little is known about how these neural systems may influence an individual’s experience within, and the effects of, complex acoustic environments such as multilingualism and musical training.

Nonetheless, the field is well poised to address key empirical questions, in part because of the recent development of new genetic and interdisciplinary approaches and technological advancements able to map neural networks varying in resolution and elucidate how these networks represent our cognition and perception along multiple developmental timepoints. To better understand the genetic contributions and effects of complex acoustic environments on multiple aspects of language development, research is needed to identify those specific functions of each that influence the other, with areas for rhythmicity and pitch having already been targeted. Research is also needed to identify the extent to which genetic contributions affect early development of language networks and the specific processes that occur when these systems are altered throughout development as a result of learning and/or training.

For this Research Topic, we would like to further explore the relationship between language and music from two perspectives: 1) understanding the role of genetic contributions towards the representation and processing of shared components of music and language and 2) understanding the developmental trajectory of these contributions and how they interact with, or affect the outcome(s) of, an individual’s exposure to complex acoustic environments (e.g. multilingualism and musical training). We seek to gather the following types of articles: technically diverse original research, systematic review, methods, review, hypothesis and theory, and perspective articles that present new empirical findings and theories relevant to understanding:

• Shared versus separate neural and genetic architecture of language and music in children and adults using gene expression methods.
• How genetic contributions limit or constrain experiences within complex acoustic environments, such as musical training, thus affecting the learning and trainability of the individual.
• How neural networks for language change over time due to exposure to, and experiences within, complex acoustic environments at various developmental stages.


Keywords: Language acquisition, Musical training, Rhythm, Language development, Music cognition


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2021 Abstract
24 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2021 Abstract
24 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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