Musical training during childhood may influence regional brain growth

May 07, 2001

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Research has revealed significant differences in the gray matter distribution between professional musicians trained at an early age and non-musicians, as presented today at the American Academy of Neurology's 53rd Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA. The musicians in the study had more relative gray matter volume in left and right primary sensorimotor regions, the left more than the right intraparietal sulcus region, the left basal ganglia region and the left posterior perisylvian region, with pronounced differences also seen in the cerebellum bilaterally.

"We were interested to know whether intense environmental demands such as musical training at an early age influenced actual brain growth and development," comments study leader Gottfried Schlaug, MD, PhD. Results of this cross-sectional study may indicate use-dependent brain growth or structural plasticity of gray matter volume in response to such demands during a critical period of brain maturation. "An alternative explanation may be that these musicians were born with these differences, which may draw them toward their musical gifts." Fifteen male professional musicians and 15 age and gender matched non-musicians were included in the study conducted by neurologist Schlaug and Gaser Christian, PhD, of Germany, at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston. Using a magnetic resonance imaging sequence, they compared high resolution anatomical datasets of the professional musicians' and non-musicians' brains on a voxel-by-voxel basis using SPM99 software.

"Musicians typically commence training at an early age, making them ideal subjects for this type of investigation," notes Schlaug. These presumed cerebral adaptations may not only lead to modifications of functional sensory and motor maps, but may also lead to structural adaptations within the sensorimotor system.

"However," Schlaug concludes, "additional study is necessary to confirm causal relationships between intense motor training for a long period of time and structural changes in motor and non-motor related brain regions." Schlaug is continuing this study to identify areas of the brain that are different, and to determine if training and experience create the differences.

A neurologist is a medical doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system.
-end-
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 17,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit its web site at www.aan.com.

For more information contact:
Kathy Stone, 651-695-2763
May 5-11, 215-418-2420

Editor's Note: Study author Gottfried Schlaug, MD, PhD, will present the research at the American Academy of Neurology's 53rd Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, during a poster presentation on Tuesday, May 8, 2001, at 7:30 am in Exhibit Hall B at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

American Academy of Neurology

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.