Musicians and music making as a model for the study of brain plasticity.
Prog Brain Res. 2015 ;217:37-55. Epub 2015 Feb 11. PMID: 25725909
Playing a musical instrument is an intense, multisensory, and motor experience that usually commences at an early age and requires the acquisition and maintenance of a range of sensory and motor skills over the course of a musician's lifetime. Thus, musicians offer an excellent human model for studying behavioral-cognitive as well as brain effects of acquiring, practicing, and maintaining these specialized skills. Research has shown that repeatedly practicing the association of motor actions with specific sound and visual patterns (musical notation), while receiving continuous multisensory feedback will strengthen connections between auditory and motor regions (e.g., arcuate fasciculus) as well as multimodal integration regions. Plasticity in this network may explain some of the sensorimotor and cognitive enhancements that have been associated with music training. Furthermore, the plasticity of this system as a result of long term and intense interventions suggest the potential for music making activities (e.g., forms of singing) as an intervention for neurological and developmental disorders to learn and relearn associations between auditory and motor functions such as vocal motor functions.