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Exp Brain Res. 2007 Jan;176(2):332-40.

The effect of early musical training on adult motor performance: evidence for a sensitive period in motor learning.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, SP-A 244, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke, West, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Abstract

Developmental changes in the human brain coincide with and underlie changes in a wide range of motor and cognitive abilities. Neuroimaging studies have shown that musical training can result in structural and functional plasticity in the brains of musicians, and that this plasticity is greater for those who begin training early in life. However, previous studies have not controlled for differences between early-trained (ET) and late-trained (LT) musicians in the total number of years of musical training and experience. In the present experiment, we tested musicians who began training before and after the age of 7 on learning of a timed motor sequence task. The groups were matched for years of musical experience, years of formal training and hours of current practice. Results showed that ET musicians performed better than LT musicians, and that this performance advantage persisted after 5 days of practice. Performance differences were greatest for a measure of response synchronization, suggesting that early training has its greatest effect on neural systems involved in sensorimotor integration and timing. These findings support the idea that there may be a sensitive period in childhood where enriched motor training through musical practice results in long-lasting benefits for performance later in life. These results are also consistent with the results of studies showing structural changes in motor-related regions of the brain in musicians that are specifically related to training early in life.

PMID:
16896980
DOI:
10.1007/s00221-006-0619-z
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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