Childhood Music Training Induces Change in Micro and Macroscopic Brain Structure: Results from a Longitudinal Study

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Habibi, Damasio A, Ilari B, Veiga R, Joshi AA, Leahy RM, Haldar JP, Varadarajan D, Bhushan C, Damasio H.


Several studies comparing adult musicians and nonmusicians have shown that music training is associated with structural brain differences. It is not been established, however, whether such differences result from pre-existing biological traits, lengthy musical training, or an interaction of the two factors, or if comparable changes can be found in children undergoing music training. As part of an ongoing longitudinal study, we investigated the effects of music training on the developmental trajectory of children’s brain structure, over two years, beginning at age 6. We compared these children with children of the same socio-economic background but either involved in sports training or not involved in any systematic after school training. We established at the onset that there were no pre-existing structural differences among the groups. Two years later we observed that children in the music group showed (1) a different rate of cortical thickness maturation between the right and left posterior superior temporal gyrus, and (2) higher fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum, specifically in the crossing pathways connecting superior frontal, sensory, and motor segments. We conclude that music training induces macro and microstructural brain changes in school-age children, and that those changes are not attributable to pre-existing biological traits.



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