Dec 19, 2003

Music and learning-induced cortical plasticity

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Christo PantevMatthias Schulz

Abstract

Auditory stimuli are encoded by frequency-tuned neurons in the auditory cortex. There are a number of tonotopic maps, indicating that there are multiple representations, as in a mosaic. However, the cortical organization is not fixed due to the brain's capacity to adapt to current requirements of the environment. Several experiments on cerebral cortical organization in musicians demonstrate an astonishing plasticity. We used the MEG technique in a number of studies to investigate the changes that occur in the human auditory cortex when a skill is acquired, such as when learning to play a musical instrument. We found enlarged cortical representation of tones of the musical scale as compared to pure tones in skilled musicians. Enlargement was correlated with the age at which musicians began to practice. We also investigated cortical representations for notes of different timbre (violin and trumpet) and found that they are enhanced in violinists and trumpeters, preferentially for the timbre of the instrument on which the musician was trained. In recent studies we extended these findings in three ways. First, we show that we can use MEG to measure the effects of relatively short-term laboratory training involving learning to percei...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Memory Training
Neurons
Brain
Magnetoencephalography
Neuronal Plasticity
Structure of Cortex of Kidney
Cerebral Hemisphere Structure (Body Structure)
Auditory Area
Mosaic Organism
Cerebral Cortex

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