Increased Auditory Cortical Representation in Musicians

Biomagnetism Center, Institute of Experimental Audiology, University of Münster, Germany.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 04/1998; 392(6678):811-4. DOI: 10.1038/33918
Source: PubMed


Acoustic stimuli are processed throughout the auditory projection pathway, including the neocortex, by neurons that are aggregated into 'tonotopic' maps according to their specific frequency tunings. Research on animals has shown that tonotopic representations are not statically fixed in the adult organism but can reorganize after damage to the cochlea or after training the intact subject to discriminate between auditory stimuli. Here we used functional magnetic source imaging (single dipole model) to measure cortical representations in highly skilled musicians. Dipole moments for piano tones, but not for pure tones of similar fundamental frequency (matched in loudness), were found to be enlarged by about 25% in musicians compared with control subjects who had never played an instrument. Enlargement was correlated with the age at which musicians began to practise and did not differ between musicians with absolute or relative pitch. These results, when interpreted with evidence for modified somatosensory representations of the fingering digits in skilled violinists, suggest that use-dependent functional reorganization extends across the sensory cortices to reflect the pattern of sensory input processed by the subject during development of musical skill.

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    • "ight than left auditory cortex . Lateralization to the right hemisphere occurred for both left and right ear presentations ( Figs . 4 and 5 ) . A number of studies using electroencephalography ( Picton et al . , 1999 ; Hine and Debener , 2007 ; Hine et al . , 2008 ) , as measured here , as well as magnetoencephologra - phy ( Kanno et al . , 1996 ; Pantev et al . , 1998 ; Fujoika et al . , 2003 ) have shown similar findings in adults . This speciali - zation of the right auditory cortex for pure tones appears to have emerged in development as the same stimulation resulted in contralateral lateralization in younger children with normal hearing regardless of ear of presentation [ Gordon et al . , 2013b ]"
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    • "matter volume and density in auditory cortices of musicians [97] [98]. On the basis of the structural findings, changes in the auditory ERPs in musicians may indicate expanded activation areas, increased number of neurons, greater synchronization, or faster connectivity. "
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