The Musical Abilities, Pleiotropy, Language, and Environment (MAPLE) framework for understanding musicality-language links across the lifespan
Nayak, S., Coleman, P. L., Ladányi, E., Nitin, R., Gustavson, D. E., Fisher, S. E., Magne, C. L., & Gordon, R. L.
The Musical Abilities, Pleiotropy, Language, and Environment (MAPLE) framework for understanding musicality-language links across the lifespan. Neurobiology of Language, 3
(4), 615-664. doi:10.1162/nol_a_00079.
Using individual differences approaches, a growing body of literature finds positive associations between musicality and language-related abilities, complementing prior findings of links between musical training and language skills. Despite these associations, musicality has been often overlooked in mainstream models of individual differences in language acquisition and development. To better understand the biological basis of these individual differences, we propose the Musical Abilities, Pleiotropy, Language, and Environment (MAPLE) framework. This novel integrative framework posits that musical and language-related abilities likely share some common genetic architecture (i.e., genetic pleiotropy) in addition to some degree of overlapping neural endophenotypes, and genetic influences on musically and linguistically enriched environments. Drawing upon recent advances in genomic methodologies for unraveling pleiotropy, we outline testable predictions for future research on language development and how its underlying neurobiological substrates may be supported by genetic pleiotropy with musicality. In support of the MAPLE framework, we review and discuss findings from over seventy behavioral and neural studies, highlighting that musicality is robustly associated with individual differences in a range of speech-language skills required for communication and development. These include speech perception-in-noise, prosodic perception, morphosyntactic skills, phonological skills, reading skills, and aspects of second/foreign language learning. Overall, the current work provides a clear agenda and framework for studying musicality-language links using individual differences approaches, with an emphasis on leveraging advances in the genomics of complex musicality and language traits.
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