Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Frontiers | Musical Instrument Practice Predicts White Matter Microstructure and Cognitive Abilities in Childhood | Psychology

Musical training has been associated with advantages in cognitive measures of IQ and verbal ability, as well as neural measures including white matter microstructural properties in the corpus callosum (CC) and the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). We hypothesized that children who have musical training will have different microstructural properties in the SLF and CC. One hundred children aged 7.9–9.9 years (mean age 8.7) were surveyed for their musical activities, completed neuropsychological testing for general cognitive abilities, and underwent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) as part of a larger study. Children who play a musical instrument for more than 0.5 h per week (n = 34) had higher scores on verbal ability and intellectual ability (standardized scores from the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities), as well as higher axial diffusivity (AD) in the left SLF than those who did not play a musical instrument (n = 66). Furthermore, the intensity of musical practice, quantified as the number of hours of music practice per week, was correlated with axial diffusivity (AD) in the left SLF. Results are not explained by age, sex, socio-economic status, or physical fitness of the participants. The results suggest that the relationship between musical practice and intellectual ability is related to the maturation of white matter pathways in the auditory-motor system. The findings suggest that musical training may be a means of improving cognitive and brain health during development.

Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist
Director, Institute for Applied Psychometrics

No comments: