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Neurosci Lett. 2009 Jul 31;459(1):3-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2008.07.056. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Gray matter density and white matter integrity in pianists' brain: a combined structural and diffusion tensor MRI study.

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State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, China.


The current study combined structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) and diffusion tensor MRI (DT-MRI) to investigate both gray matter density (GMD) and white matter integrity (WMI) in 18 pianists and 21 age-matched non-musicians. The pianists began their piano training at a mean age of 12. Voxel-based morphometry of the sMRI data showed that the pianists had higher GMD in the left primary sensorimotor cortex and right cerebellum. Voxel-based analysis of the DT-MRI data showed that pianists had higher fractional anisotropy (FA) (indicating higher WMI) in the right posterior limb of the internal capsule. The sMRI and DT-MRI results indicate that both the GMD and WMI of pianists may exhibit movement-related increases during adolescence or even early adulthood compared with non-musicians.

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