Increased auditory cortical representation in musicians

Biomagnetism Center, Institute of Experimental Audiology, University of Münster, Germany.
Nature (Impact Factor: 42.35). 04/1998; 392(6678):811-4. DOI: 10.1038/33918
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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    • "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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    • "In typically developing individuals, effectiveness of treatment diminishes after the age of 7 years, although there are substantial individual differences in response to treatment after that period (Scheiman et al., 2008). Similarly, musical training leads to an expanded auditory cortical representation, but only before 9 years of age (Pantev et al., 1998). If sensitive periods are disrupted in individuals with autism, we would predict that treatment efficacy for amblyopia may have a significantly different time course. "
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    • "This result is not surprising as the effects of musical experience appear in a usedependent manner (Lütkenh€ oner et al., 2006; Pantev et al., 2001, 1998). For example, Pantev et al. (1998) found an increase in the N1 response to piano tones in musicians that did not occur for pure tones. While piano tones are often encountered in musical training, pure tones are rarely experienced. "
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