ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (9): 1040-1056.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.01040

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effect of Dong Chorus on the executive function of Dong high school students

WANG Ting1,ZHI Fengying2,LU Yutong1,ZHANG Jijia1()   

  1. 1. Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China; The State Ethnic Affairs Commission Key Research Center for Language, Cultural, and Psychology; Key Research Center for National Psychology and Education, the National Education Development Center of the Ministry of Education, Beijing 100872, China
    2. School of Education Science, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang 550001, China
  • Received:2018-08-08 Published:2019-09-25 Online:2019-07-24
  • Contact: Jijia ZHANG


Considerable research suggests that musical experience and ability are related to various cognitive abilities. One aspect of cognition that may be related to musical training is executive function (EF), which involves a set of top-down processes that regulate behavior and cognition according to task demands. To date, many studies are investigating this relationship. However, results are mixed and difficult to compare because of not only the variety of EF components examined but also the variety of tasks used to measure EF and the variety of criteria used to categorize participants as “musicians” or “non-musicians.” Moreover, most studies focus more on Western music than Chinese folk music, which has its own unique expression and distinct musical character.

Dong Chorus, which is the multipart folk chorus of the Dong people in Guizhou Province, holds an important and unusual position in Chinese polyphonic folk songs. This stature is due to their splendid artistry, long history that can be textually researched, and the great influence of their vivid artistic practice, which gained the favor of numerous musicians. However, only a few scholars have studied the folk songs from the perspective of cognitive psychology or by means of experiments.

In this study, we divide EFs into three core components: inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility in auditory and visual modalities. Dong musicians (n = 32), Dong non-musicians (n = 32), and the Han (n = 32) high school students were involved in six experiments to test the effect of Dong Chorus on cognition and the existence and generality of the relationship between musical ability and EFs.

Results showed that Dong musicians and non-musicians outperformed Han students in inhibitory control and memory updating in auditory and visual versions of EF tasks, but no significant difference existed among the three groups in terms of shifting, which proved the generality of cognitive advantages of Dong Chorus. Dong non-musicians outperformed Han students in inhibition and switching, which suggested the interaction between language and music.

In summary, these results indicated that cognitive advantages associated with Dong Chorus are not limited to auditory processes, but they are limited to specific aspects of EF. This finding supports a process-specific (but modality-general) relationship between musical ability and nonmusical aspects of cognition. Protecting and developing the Dong Chorus are important.

Key words: Dong nationality, Dong Chorus, executive function

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