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Understanding the Benefits of Musical Training

Effects on Oscillatory Brain Activity

Authors


Address for correspondence: Laurel J. Trainor, Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1. Voice: 1-905-525-9140 x23007; fax: 1-905-529-6225. LJT@mcmaster.ca

Abstract

A number of studies suggest that musical training has benefits for other cognitive domains, such as language and mathematics, and studies of children and adults indicate structural as well as functional differences between the brains of musicians and nonmusicians. The induced gamma-band response has been associated with attentional, expectation, memory retrieval, and integration of top-down, bottom-up, and multisensory processes. Here we report data indicating that the induced gamma-band response to musical sounds is larger in adult musicians than in nonmusicians and that it develops in children after 1 year of musical training beginning at age 41/2 years, but not in children of this age who are not engaged in musical lessons. We conclude that musical training affects oscillatory networks in the brain associated with executive functions, and that superior executive functioning could enhance learning and performance in many cognitive domains.

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