Associations Between Music Perception and Spelling Errors in Adults

  • Erica Burdzy MacEwan University


Many studies have investigated the link between reading-especially word decoding, which is identifying or "sounding out" words-and auditory skills. Because reading and spelling rely on many of the same sub-skills, it is reasonable to hypothesize that music skills are associated with spelling as well. However, fewer studies have examined this link, and none have examined whether musical abilities are associated with spelling error type. Phonological errors occur when a phoneme is missing or incorrect (e.g., "ca" instead of "cat"), revealing difficulty with speech sound processing. By contrast, orthographic errors occur when a word is spelled plausibly but incorrectly (e.g., "throte" instead of "throat"), revealing difficulty with memorizing orthographic patterns. Individuals with dyslexia, who also show music perception impairments, exhibit many phonological errors. We examined whether music perception and music training were associated with spelling in undergraduate students. Participants completed a spelling test, a measure of general cognition, as well as the Profile of Music Perception Skills, and Beat Alignment Test. We also collected information on demographics and personality. Spelling errors were coded as phonological or orthographic. We expect that music perception skills and duration of music training will be negatively associated with phonological spelling errors. These results have the potential to clarify the association between music and spelling skills. The findings may have important implications for providing musical interventions to poor spellers.

Discipline: Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kathleen Corrigall