Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Audiology (AuD)


Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders


Yingjiu Nie

Ayasakanta Rout

Rory DePaolis


Superior speech recognition in the presence of background noise has been repeatedly observed among musicians. For children whose auditory skills are immature or delayed, improved speech-in-noise understanding via musical training could have significant clinical implications. The present study considered the impact socioeconomic status (SES) and working memory have on musicians’ greater skill during such tasks in order to better understand the mediating factors of the proposed musician advantage, as well as provide additional evidence of its existence. Participants were recruited by the Laboratory for Auditory Perception in Children and Adults at James Madison University. Ultimately, twenty-five normal-hearing children between the ages of 7.75 and 13.92 years were evaluated using sentence identification tasks from the Sung Speech Corpus (Crew et al., 2015). Methodology largely paralleled Nie et al. (2018), with the added consideration of three proxies of SES (i.e., maternal education level, average parental education level, and a two-factor score), as well as working memory, which was estimated using the Backward Digit Span (BDS). Musician and nonmusician groups were separated according to their history of formal music lessons and practice. Although groups were matched with regard to maternal education level and BDS score, musicians still outperformed nonmusicians on speech-in-noise tasks. Furthermore, average parental education and the two-factor proxy of SES did not correlate with sentence identification score. These findings suggest the musician advantage for speech-in-noise understanding cannot solely be explained by pre-existing differences in SES or even disparities in working memory. Although such results are consistent with a trained effect, future longitudinal studies are needed to better understand and exemplify clinical implications.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 12, 2023