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Keywords:

  • musicians;
  • Broca's area;
  • pars opercularis;
  • volume

Abstract

Purpose

To compare manual volumetry of gray matter (GM) / white matter (WM) of Broca's area subparts: pars opercularis (POP) and pars triangularis (PTR) in both hemispheres between musicians and nonmusician, as it has been shown that these regions are crucial for musical abilities. A previous voxel-based morphometric (VBM) study conducted in our laboratory reported increased GM density in Broca's area of left hemisphere in male orchestral musicians. Functional segregation of POP/PTR justified separate volumetric analysis of these parts.

Materials and Methods

We used the same cohort for the VBM study. Manual morphometry (stereology) was used to compare volumes between 26/26 right-handed orchestral musicians/nonmusicians.

Results

As expected, musicians showed significantly increased GM volume in the Broca's area, specifically in the left POP. No significant results were detected in right POP, left/right PTR GM volumes, and WM volumes for all regions. Results were positively correlated with years of musical performance (r = 0.7, P = 0.0001).

Conclusion

This result corroborates the VBM study and is in line with the hypothesis of critical involvement of POP in hearing-action integration being an integral component of frontoparietotemporal mirror neuron network. We hypothesize that increased size of musicians' left POP represent use-dependent structural adaptation in response to intensive audiomotor skill acquisition. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2011;33:24–32. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.