Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Mozart in Us: How the Brain Processes Music

Eckart O. Altenmüller, Marc W. Bangert, Gundhild Liebert, Wilfried Gruhn
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 15 Number 3: Page 99 (September 2000)

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Abstract: The increase of studies on brain activity during music listening and processing has generated a puzzling, and in many instances contradictory, variety of findings. Besides methodological reasons, e.g., different brain imaging procedures and the nature of applied stimuli, other factors must account for the observed variety. The objective of the present paper is to illustrate individual factors influencing brain networks during music processing. In three longitudinal follow-up studies, changes in cortical activation patterns due to long-term ear training, to short-term ear training, and to piano training could be demonstrated. Among the factors influencing brain activity during music learning, the instructor's teaching strategy and the individual's instrumental training were of importance. The authors propose that neuronal networks related to music processing reflect the individual's auditory biography, i.e., the personal experiences during auditory learning. The authors therefore conclude that in "high-order" musical processing, many and individually connected brain areas underlie music perception. It seems plausible to assume that the increased neuronal connectivity improves cognitive abilities in general

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