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New study shows musicians have a remarkable behavioral advantage when it comes to learning

Published: 19 MAR 2018 10:54AM

Words by Naomi Hunter | Staff Writer

THE latest study to investigate the inner workings of the brains of musicians has lead to yet more evidence that suggests they may have an upper edge on the rest of the population when it comes to learning. This not only applies to adults but also to children that take up an instrument at an early age.

"Currently, there is striking evidence showing that both plastic changes in the auditory-related cortex (ARC), as well as altered neural network characteristics, lead to remarkable behavioral advantages of musicians..."


Says Stefan Elmer - Lead author of the study, 'Theta Coherence Asymmetry in the Dorsal Stream of Musicians Facilitates Word Learning' published in Nature on 15th March 2018

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A team at the Cognition and Brain Plasticity Group, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain lead by DR Stefan Elmer, an expert in Biological Psychology found that musicians are highly adapted to learning new things, specifically, new languages.

“This behavioral superiority was paralleled by increased left-hemispheric theta coherence in the dorsal stream”



The new findings are not just limited to speech development though. They also suggest that musicians, overall, have higher cognitive abilities, short-term memory, and working memory compared to non-musicians. Traits that are crucial for learning in many aspects of development and adulthood.

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“...an optimization of sensory-to-motor coupling mechanisms and phonological working memory functions enabled the building-up of more robust multimodal memory traces..”



The study was carried out on a small group of German participants, musicians and non-musicians matched equally in number and a set of standardized psychometric tests was used to compare a wide spectrum of basic cognitive functions between the two groups.

The study did not, however, include sound engineers as they are a different breed altogether.

Media Resource://10.1038/s41598-018-22942-1



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