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Behavioral and neural correlates of executive functioning in musicians and non-musicians.

Zuk J, Benjamin C, Kenyon A, Gaab N - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Adult musicians compared to non-musicians showed enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency.Musically trained children showed enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed, and significantly greater activation in pre-SMA/SMA and right VLPFC during rule representation and task-switching compared to musically untrained children.These results support the working hypothesis that musical training may promote the development and maintenance of certain EF skills, which could mediate the previously reported links between musical training and enhanced cognitive skills and academic achievement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, Department of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Executive functions (EF) are cognitive capacities that allow for planned, controlled behavior and strongly correlate with academic abilities. Several extracurricular activities have been shown to improve EF, however, the relationship between musical training and EF remains unclear due to methodological limitations in previous studies. To explore this further, two experiments were performed; one with 30 adults with and without musical training and one with 27 musically trained and untrained children (matched for general cognitive abilities and socioeconomic variables) with a standardized EF battery. Furthermore, the neural correlates of EF skills in musically trained and untrained children were investigated using fMRI. Adult musicians compared to non-musicians showed enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency. Musically trained children showed enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed, and significantly greater activation in pre-SMA/SMA and right VLPFC during rule representation and task-switching compared to musically untrained children. Overall, musicians show enhanced performance on several constructs of EF, and musically trained children further show heightened brain activation in traditional EF regions during task-switching. These results support the working hypothesis that musical training may promote the development and maintenance of certain EF skills, which could mediate the previously reported links between musical training and enhanced cognitive skills and academic achievement.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Whole brain activation during rule representation (all bivalent > all univalent rule trials) in (A) musically trained (p<0.05 corrected), (B) musically untrained (p = 0.05 corrected), and (C) two-sample comparison of musically trained over untrained children (p = 0.005 uncorrected).Note: activation is displayed with the FSL radiological convention.
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pone-0099868-g002: Whole brain activation during rule representation (all bivalent > all univalent rule trials) in (A) musically trained (p<0.05 corrected), (B) musically untrained (p = 0.05 corrected), and (C) two-sample comparison of musically trained over untrained children (p = 0.005 uncorrected).Note: activation is displayed with the FSL radiological convention.

Mentions: Whole brain analyses of rule representation (contrast: all bivalent > all univalent rule trials) demonstrated significant activation for both groups in several brain regions including the SMA/paracingulate cortex and VLPFC bilaterally for the musically trained group only (Figure 2). Further activation was apparent within regions including bilateral superior parietal cortex (angular and supramarginal gyri), insula and cerebellum (see Table 3). An independent two-sample t-test (p = 0.005 uncorrected) revealed significantly greater activation for musically trained compared to untrained children in the left VLPFC and left Heschl's gyrus (as shown in Figure 2 and Table 3). The opposite comparison of musically untrained children over trained children resulted in no cortical activation. To account for the uncorrected threshold at the whole brain level and further explore our a priori hypotheses, ROI analysis was then employed to evaluate the activation within our specific regions of interest. Extraction of the contrast of parameter estimates (COPE) during rule representation (bivalent > univalent rule trials) for each child within our specified ROIs (VLPFC, SMA, superior parietal cortex) revealed significant differences in bilateral SMA between the groups (p = 0.048), with the musically trained children demonstrating greater SMA activation (see Figure 3). No significant differences in VLPFC or superior parietal ROIs were found between musically trained and untrained children for this contrast (rule representation).


Behavioral and neural correlates of executive functioning in musicians and non-musicians.

Zuk J, Benjamin C, Kenyon A, Gaab N - PLoS ONE (2014)

Whole brain activation during rule representation (all bivalent > all univalent rule trials) in (A) musically trained (p<0.05 corrected), (B) musically untrained (p = 0.05 corrected), and (C) two-sample comparison of musically trained over untrained children (p = 0.005 uncorrected).Note: activation is displayed with the FSL radiological convention.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4061064&req=5

pone-0099868-g002: Whole brain activation during rule representation (all bivalent > all univalent rule trials) in (A) musically trained (p<0.05 corrected), (B) musically untrained (p = 0.05 corrected), and (C) two-sample comparison of musically trained over untrained children (p = 0.005 uncorrected).Note: activation is displayed with the FSL radiological convention.
Mentions: Whole brain analyses of rule representation (contrast: all bivalent > all univalent rule trials) demonstrated significant activation for both groups in several brain regions including the SMA/paracingulate cortex and VLPFC bilaterally for the musically trained group only (Figure 2). Further activation was apparent within regions including bilateral superior parietal cortex (angular and supramarginal gyri), insula and cerebellum (see Table 3). An independent two-sample t-test (p = 0.005 uncorrected) revealed significantly greater activation for musically trained compared to untrained children in the left VLPFC and left Heschl's gyrus (as shown in Figure 2 and Table 3). The opposite comparison of musically untrained children over trained children resulted in no cortical activation. To account for the uncorrected threshold at the whole brain level and further explore our a priori hypotheses, ROI analysis was then employed to evaluate the activation within our specific regions of interest. Extraction of the contrast of parameter estimates (COPE) during rule representation (bivalent > univalent rule trials) for each child within our specified ROIs (VLPFC, SMA, superior parietal cortex) revealed significant differences in bilateral SMA between the groups (p = 0.048), with the musically trained children demonstrating greater SMA activation (see Figure 3). No significant differences in VLPFC or superior parietal ROIs were found between musically trained and untrained children for this contrast (rule representation).

Bottom Line: Adult musicians compared to non-musicians showed enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency.Musically trained children showed enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed, and significantly greater activation in pre-SMA/SMA and right VLPFC during rule representation and task-switching compared to musically untrained children.These results support the working hypothesis that musical training may promote the development and maintenance of certain EF skills, which could mediate the previously reported links between musical training and enhanced cognitive skills and academic achievement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, Department of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Executive functions (EF) are cognitive capacities that allow for planned, controlled behavior and strongly correlate with academic abilities. Several extracurricular activities have been shown to improve EF, however, the relationship between musical training and EF remains unclear due to methodological limitations in previous studies. To explore this further, two experiments were performed; one with 30 adults with and without musical training and one with 27 musically trained and untrained children (matched for general cognitive abilities and socioeconomic variables) with a standardized EF battery. Furthermore, the neural correlates of EF skills in musically trained and untrained children were investigated using fMRI. Adult musicians compared to non-musicians showed enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency. Musically trained children showed enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed, and significantly greater activation in pre-SMA/SMA and right VLPFC during rule representation and task-switching compared to musically untrained children. Overall, musicians show enhanced performance on several constructs of EF, and musically trained children further show heightened brain activation in traditional EF regions during task-switching. These results support the working hypothesis that musical training may promote the development and maintenance of certain EF skills, which could mediate the previously reported links between musical training and enhanced cognitive skills and academic achievement.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus