Thursday, March 15, 2007

The brains of musicians are different...

When asked to mark the center of a horizontal line, neurologically intact right-handers show a slight yet reliable tendency to bisect about 2% to the left of the true center. Patston et al show that that musicians show a slight rightward bias, suggesting left pseudoneglect, and also that musicians bisect the lines more accurately than nonmusicians.

Figure: Mean percentage deviation from the true center in the line-bisection task according to group (musicians vs. nonmusicians) and hand used. Negative numbers denote leftward bias, and positive numbers denote rightward bias. Error bars represent mean standard error.

Currently, there is considerable interest in the musical brain as a window into neurodevelopmental plasticity, with reports of both white-matter and gray-matter differences between musicians and nonmusicians. This work suggests that musicians may develop an increased ability for the left hemisphere to perform cognitive functions that are usually right-hemisphere dominant, and is consistent with the idea that musical training can have perceptual and cognitive effects beyond the auditory modality.

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