Stanislas Dehaene, Christine Petit

Words and Music Genesis of human dialogue Publication date : October 8, 2009

Stanislas Dehaene is most notably the author of La Bosse des maths (2003) and Neurones de la lecture (2007). He is a professor at the Collège de France in the Chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology. His other works include Vers une science de la vie mentale (2006).
Christine Petit is a professor at the Collège de France in the Chair of Genetics and Cellular Physiology. Her work on the cochlea resulted in the identification of the genes responsible for human sensory deficits, particularly hearing loss.

Speech and music shape social cognition through shared emotional states, intentions, symbols and cultures. But what is the origin of the human species’ singular aptitude to confer meaning on acoustic signals? How and why did such systems of communication appear during the course of evolution? Are there any similarities between the sounds emitted and treated by the two sound systems? Is there such a thing as a “musical language”? Or should we echo Wagner in affirming that where words leave off music begins?
During the past twenty years, cognitive neuroscientists studying language and music have provided a partial answer to the above questions.

This book resulted from a colloquium held at the College de France on 16-17 October 2009. Attended by neurobiologists, evolutionary scientists, philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, specialists in psychoacoustics, computer engineers, musicologists, musicians and composers, the colloquium was a stimulating occasion and gave rise to the development of new concepts and new research avenues and tools.

With contributions by: S. Arom, A. Bargiacchi and M. Zilbovicius, E. Bigand, J. Bouveresse, R. Chartier, G. Dehaene-Lambertz, M. Edwards, C. Hagège, M. Hausberger, D. Gnansia and C. Lorenzi, H. Neville. P.Y. Oudeyer, I. Peretz and R. Kolinsky, C. Petit, J.C. Risset, L. Rizzi, X. Rodet, P. Szendy.