Learning Tasks To Music Strengthens Brain Structure.

In Brain Science, Memory and Learning, Senses and Perception by Brainy Days Ahead

Learning a physical task using musical cues showed increased structural connectivity between the regions of the brain that process sound and control movement. Once again, white matter — the wiring that enables brain cells to communicate with each other — is the star of the show. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Music in Human and Social Development, Clinical Research Imaging Centre, and Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, and from Clinical Neuropsychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands took part in the study. Thirty right-handed volunteers were divided into two groups and charged with learning a new task involving sequences of finger movements with the non-dominant, left hand. One group learned the task with musical cues, the other group without music. After four weeks of practice, both groups of volunteers performed equally well at learning the sequences. However, MRI scans revealed that the group learning with music showed a significant increase in structural connectivity in the white matter tract that links auditory and motor regions on the right side of the brain. The non-music group showed no change. These results may lead to better motor rehabilitation programs and more successful treatments for stroke victims.