Differentiating maturational and training influences on fMRI activation during music processing

Robert J Ellis, Andrea C Norton, Katie Overy, Ellen Winner, David C Alsop, Gottfried Schlaug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two major influences on how the brain processes music are maturational development and active musical training. Previous functional neuroimaging studies investigating music processing have typically focused on either categorical differences between "musicians versus nonmusicians" or "children versus adults." In the present study, we explored a cross-sectional data set (n=84) using multiple linear regression to isolate the performance-independent effects of age (5 to 33 years) and cumulative duration of musical training (0 to 21,000 practice hours) on fMRI activation similarities and differences between melodic discrimination (MD) and rhythmic discrimination (RD). Age-related effects common to MD and RD were present in three left hemisphere regions: temporofrontal junction, ventral premotor cortex, and the inferior part of the intraparietal sulcus, regions involved in active attending to auditory rhythms, sensorimotor integration, and working memory transformations of pitch and rhythmic patterns. By contrast, training-related effects common to MD and RD were localized to the posterior portion of the left superior temporal gyrus/planum temporale, an area implicated in spectrotemporal pattern matching and auditory-motor coordinate transformations. A single cluster in right superior temporal gyrus showed significantly greater activation during MD than RD. This is the first fMRI which has distinguished maturational from training effects during music processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1902-12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


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