Musicians' edge

A comparison of auditory processing, cognitive abilities and statistical learning

Pragati Rao Mandikal Vasuki*, Mridula Sharma, Katherine Demuth, Joanne Arciuli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


It has been hypothesized that musical expertise is associated with enhanced auditory processing and cognitive abilities. Recent research has examined the relationship between musicians' advantage and implicit statistical learning skills. In the present study, we assessed a variety of auditory processing skills, cognitive processing skills, and statistical learning (auditory and visual forms) in age-matched musicians (N = 17) and non-musicians (N = 18). Musicians had significantly better performance than non-musicians on frequency discrimination, and backward digit span. A key finding was that musicians had better auditory, but not visual, statistical learning than non-musicians. Performance on the statistical learning tasks was not correlated with performance on auditory and cognitive measures. Musicians’ superior performance on auditory (but not visual) statistical learning suggests that musical expertise is associated with an enhanced ability to detect statistical regularities in auditory stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-123
Number of pages12
JournalHearing Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016



  • Attention
  • Auditory processing
  • Digit span
  • Musicians
  • Statistical learning

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