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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Jun;930:315-29.

The brain that plays music and is changed by it.

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  • 1Behavioral Neurology Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Playing a musical instrument demands extensive procedural and motor learning that results in plastic reorganization of the human brain. These plastic changes seem to include the rapid unmasking of existing connections and the establishment of new ones. Therefore, both functional and structural changes take place in the brain of instrumentalists as they learn to cope with the demands of their activity. Neuroimaging techniques allow documentation of these plastic changes in the human brain. These plastic changes are fundamental to the accomplishment of skillful playing, but they pose a risk for the development of motor control dysfunctions that may give rise to overuse syndromes and focal, task-specific dystonia.

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