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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2018 May 24. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13737. [Epub ahead of print]

Evaluating predisposition and training in shaping the musician's brain: the need for a developmental perspective.

Zuk J1,2, Gaab N1,2,3.

Author information

1
Developmental Medicine Center, Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
2
Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
3
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Abstract

The study of music training as a model for structural plasticity has evolved significantly over the past 15 years. Neuroimaging studies have identified characteristic structural brain alterations in musicians compared to nonmusicians in school-age children and adults, using primarily cross-sectional designs. Despite this emerging evidence and advances in pediatric neuroimaging techniques, hardly any studies have examined brain development in early childhood (before age 8) in association with musical training, and longitudinal studies starting in infancy or preschool are particularly scarce. Consequently, it remains unclear whether the characteristic "musician brain" is solely the result of musical training, or whether certain predispositions may have an impact on its development. Moving toward a developmental perspective, the present review considers various factors that may contribute to early brain structure prior to the onset of formal musical training. This review introduces a model for potential neurobiological pathways leading to the characteristic "musician brain," which involves a developmental interaction between predisposition and its temporal dynamics, environmental experience, and training-induced plasticity. This perspective illuminates the importance of studying the brain structure associated with musical training through a developmental lens, and the need for longitudinal studies in early childhood to advance our understanding of music training-induced structural plasticity.

KEYWORDS:

development; early childhood; music training; neuroimaging; neuroplasticity

PMID:
29799116
PMCID:
PMC6252158
[Available on 2019-11-24]
DOI:
10.1111/nyas.13737

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