Learning a Musical Instrument Changes the Structure of the Brain

///Learning a Musical Instrument Changes the Structure of the Brain

music brain effectChildren that start learning a musical instrument before the age of seven develop their motor skills faster than others, claim Canadian scientists.

As experts at the Concordia University in Montreal say, it shows that at the age of 6-8 music education interacts with the growth rate of motor skills in children, causing long-term changes in the brain.

“Learning a musical instrument requires synchronization between the movements of the hands and the received audiovisual stimuli,” explains the lead researcher of the study and professor of psychology Virginia Penhune. “The earlier a child starts music lessons, the better the connection between motor skills and sensory areas of the brain will be”.

With the help of imaging techniques, the researchers studied the brain of 36 musicians during the execution of (non-musical) motor skills exercises. The musicians were

divided into two groups: those who had started to learn music before the age of seven and those who had started later. The study included another group of volunteers who had never learned music.

The results showed that volunteers who had begun to learn music early showed greater accuracy in synchronizing their movements than the others. The brain scans revealed white matter accumulated in corpus, a bundle of nerve fibers which connect the motor regions of the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

In contrast, tests of the volunteers who started learning music later and those who had never learned music did not show any difference in the development of specific areas of the brain. This, as the researchers say, could mean that these changes can take place either at an early age or never.

Of course, the scientists emphasize that it does not mean that if a small child begins to learn music, he will necessarily become a great composer of classical music.

“These findings suggest that those who early start learning music gain some skills and changes in certain brain regions that last for a lifetime,” explains Dr. Penhune. “That does not necessarily mean that they will become better musicians than others. Musical performances require skills, as well as communication, enthusiasm, personal style, and many other non-estimable qualities. Learning a musical instrument at an early age could help the expression of genius, but it does not automatically make us music geniuses.”


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By |2017-01-13T21:54:32+00:00February 17th, 2013|Categories: Human Brain, Uncommon Science|Tags: , |2 Comments

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Anna is the founder and lead editor of the website Learning-mind.com. She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.


  1. Paul Featherstone February 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    A very interesting article. I truly wish I had learned a musical instrument before I was 7 years old, as I tried later in Life, and it is a lot harder to understand. I think when you are young, you tend to embrace things more, as everything is more magical and exciting to a young person. Regards Paul

  2. Stepanov Sergey March 14, 2013 at 11:05 am - Reply

    This is interesting scientific article . It reflects the special moment of music education for beginners.Thanks.
    Teacher of music Stepanov S.M.

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