Biological and Environmental Factors in Music Cognitionand Learning

Steven M. Demorest*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


This chapter considers the historical debate of the role nature versus nurture in the knowledge people acquire through experiences. It looks into the debate's significance in the study of music learning, and the developments which led to scientists exploring simultaneously how human biology constrains one's experience of the world. It provides a sampling of more recent research in the fields of aural perception, music cognition perception, and the neurobiology of music cognition, and discusses how their findings shape the way educators approach music teaching and learning. It investigates how a person's implicit understandings of music are shaped by enculturation, and how this can aid students through potential challenges of cross-cultural musical understanding. It also highlights research on amnesia, an inability to hear or retain certain kinds of musical information, and emphasizes at recent discoveries on studies on a rare form congenital amnesia that prevents people from developing normal musical competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMENC Handbook of Research on Music Learning
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1 Strategies
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190268039
ISBN (Print)9780195386677
StatePublished - May 27 2015


  • Aural perception
  • Biology
  • Congenital amnesia
  • Enculturation
  • Music cognition neurobiology
  • Music cognition perception
  • Music learning
  • Musical competence
  • Nature
  • Nurture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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