The studies show that extensive musical training affects the structure and function of different brain regions, how those regions communicate during the creation of music, and how the brain interprets and integrates sensory information. (Agencies)
The findings, presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in US, suggest potential new roles for musical training including fostering plasticity in the brain, an alternative tool in education, and treating a range of learning disabilities.
According to one study, long-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought.
Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight.
Another study found that the age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact.
In a third study, researchers found that brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain.
Some of the brain changes that occur with musical training reflect the automation of task and the acquisition of highly specific sensorimotor and cognitive skills required for various aspects of musical expertise.
"Playing a musical instrument is a multisensory and motor experience that creates emotions and motions, from finger tapping to dancing, and engages pleasure and reward systems in the brain. It has the potential to change brain function and structure when done over a long period of time," said Gottfried Schlaug, of Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an expert on music, neuroimaging and brain plasticity.
"As today's findings show, intense musical training generates new processes within the brain, at different stages of life, and with a range of impacts on creativity, cognition, and learning," said Schlaug.
The studies show that extensive musical training affects the structure and function of different brain regions, how those regions communicate during the creation of music, and how the brain interprets and integrates sensory information.