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Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Sep 9;8:690. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00690. eCollection 2014.

An equal start: absence of group differences in cognitive, social, and neural measures prior to music or sports training in children.

Author information

1
Brain and Creativity Institute, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA.
2
Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA.
3
Brain and Creativity Institute, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA ; Signal and Image Processing Institute, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA.
4
Signal and Image Processing Institute, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA.
5
Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, Department of Neurology, University of California Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA, USA.
6
Brain and Creativity Institute, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA ; Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

Several studies comparing adult musicians and non-musicians have provided compelling evidence for functional and anatomical differences in the brain systems engaged by musical training. It is not known, however, whether those differences result from long-term musical training or from pre-existing traits favoring musicality. In an attempt to begin addressing this question, we have launched a longitudinal investigation of the effects of childhood music training on cognitive, social and neural development. We compared a group of 6- to 7-year old children at the start of intense after-school musical training, with two groups of children: one involved in high intensity sports training but not musical training, another not involved in any systematic training. All children were tested with a comprehensive battery of cognitive, motor, musical, emotional, and social assessments and underwent magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography. Our first objective was to determine whether children who participate in musical training were different, prior to training, from children in the control groups in terms of cognitive, motor, musical, emotional, and social behavior measures as well as in structural and functional brain measures. Our second objective was to determine whether musical skills, as measured by a music perception assessment prior to training, correlates with emotional and social outcome measures that have been shown to be associated with musical training. We found no neural, cognitive, motor, emotional, or social differences among the three groups. In addition, there was no correlation between music perception skills and any of the social or emotional measures. These results provide a baseline for an ongoing longitudinal investigation of the effects of music training.

KEYWORDS:

brain development; empathy; music training; neuroimaging (anatomic); social and emotional skills

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