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Cortical Plasticity and Music

Authors

  • JOSEF P. RAUSCHECKER

    Corresponding author
    1. Georgetown Institute for Cognitive and Computational Sciences, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA
      Address for correspondence: Josef P. Rauschecker, Georgetown Institute for Cognitive and Computational Sciences, Georgetown University Medical Center, New Research Building, Room WP15, 3970 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007-2197. Voice: 202-687-1580; fax: 202-687-0617; rauschej@georgetown.edu.
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Address for correspondence: Josef P. Rauschecker, Georgetown Institute for Cognitive and Computational Sciences, Georgetown University Medical Center, New Research Building, Room WP15, 3970 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007-2197. Voice: 202-687-1580; fax: 202-687-0617; rauschej@georgetown.edu.

Abstract

Abstract: Auditory experience changes the make-up of areas in the cerebral cortex that are involved in the processing of complex sounds, including music. Evidence for this comes from various lines of research. Early blindness results in an expansion of auditory-responsive areas in the parietal cortex and a refinement in the selectivity of neurons in the auditory cortex. Occipital areas normally used only for vision are activated by auditory stimuli in the early blind. This lends credibility to the claim that blind individuals have greater musical abilities. The cross-modal changes in auditory cortical representations are based on activity-dependent modifications of synaptic circuitry. Imagery and anticipation of music also lead to activation of the auditory (and frontal) cortex. It is conceivable, therefore, that even with mental practice alone we can sharpen our musical representations in the cerebral cortex.

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