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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014 Nov;53(11):1153-61, 1161.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2014.06.015. Epub 2014 Sep 3.

Cortical thickness maturation and duration of music training: health-promoting activities shape brain development.

Author information

1
Vermont Center for Children, Youth, and Families, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT. Electronic address: james.hudziak@uvm.edu.
2
Vermont Center for Children, Youth, and Families, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT.
3
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and McLean Hospital, Harvard University, Belmont, MA.
4
McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University.
5
Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
6
McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
7
Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine, St. Louis.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the extent to which playing a musical instrument is associated with cortical thickness development among healthy youths.

METHOD:

Participants were part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development. This study followed a longitudinal design such that participants underwent MRI scanning and behavioral testing on up to 3 separate visits, occurring at 2-year intervals. MRI, IQ, and music training data were available for 232 youths (334 scans), ranging from 6 to 18 years of age. Cortical thickness was regressed against the number of years that each youth had played a musical instrument. Next, thickness was regressed against an "Age × Years of Playing" interaction term. Age, gender, total brain volume, and scanner were controlled for in analyses. Participant ID was entered as a random effect to account for within-person dependence. False discovery rate correction was applied (p ≤ .05).

RESULTS:

There was no association between thickness and years playing a musical instrument. The "Age × Years of Playing" interaction was associated with thickness in motor, premotor, and supplementary motor cortices, as well as prefrontal and parietal cortices. Follow-up analysis revealed that music training was associated with an increased rate of thickness maturation. Results were largely unchanged when IQ and handedness were included as covariates.

CONCLUSION:

Playing a musical instrument was associated with more rapid cortical thickness maturation within areas implicated in motor planning and coordination, visuospatial ability, and emotion and impulse regulation. However, given the quasi-experimental nature of this study, we cannot rule out the influence of confounding variables.

KEYWORDS:

MRI; cortical thickness; music

PMID:
25440305
PMCID:
PMC4254594
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaac.2014.06.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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