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Journal Article

The "silent" imprint of musical training

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Klein, C., Liem, F., Hanggi, J., Elmer, S., & Jancke, L. (2016). The "silent" imprint of musical training. Human Brain Mapping, 37(2), 536-546. doi:10.1002/hbm.23045.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-7811-C
Playing a musical instrument at a professional level is a complex multimodal task requiring information integration between different brain regions supporting auditory, somatosensory, motor, and cognitive functions. These kinds of task-specific activations are known to have a profound influence on both the functional and structural architecture of the human brain. However, until now, it is widely unknown whether this specific imprint of musical practice can still be detected during rest when no musical instrument is used. Therefore, we applied high-density electroencephalography and evaluated whole-brain functional connectivity as well as small-world topologies (i.e., node degree) during resting state in a sample of 15 professional musicians and 15 nonmusicians. As expected, musicians demonstrate increased intra- and interhemispheric functional connectivity between those brain regions that are typically involved in music perception and production, such as the auditory, the sensorimotor, and prefrontal cortex as well as Broca's area. In addition, mean connectivity within this specific network was positively related to musical skill and the total number of training hours. Thus, we conclude that musical training distinctively shapes intrinsic functional network characteristics in such a manner that its signature can still be detected during a task-free condition.