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Early Musical Training Alters Brain Anatomy

Early Musical Training Alters Brain Anatomy A new study finds that musical training at a young age may strengthen the brain, especially regions that influence language skills and executive function, needed for activities such as planning, organization, and managing time and space.

The volume of brain regions related to hearing and self-awareness appeared to be larger in those who began taking music lessons before age 7, according to Yunxin Wang of the State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning at Beijing Normal University.

This suggests that early musical training could potentially be used as a therapeutic tool, the researcher reported.

“Early musical training does more good for kids than just making it easier for them to enjoy music — it changes their brain and these brain changes could lead to cognitive advances as well,” Wang said.

“Our study provides evidence that early music training could change the structure of the brain’s cortex.”

The researchers investigated the impacts of music training on brain structure in 48 Han Chinese adults between the ages of 19 and 21, each of whom had engaged in formal musical training for at least a year, beginning sometime between the ages of 3 and 15.

After controlling for the influence of gender and total practice time, researchers examined the volume of the brain’s grey matter, surface area, and folding index across the entire brain.

Their findings suggest that music training started at a younger age might strengthen brain regions serving executive function and language skills.

A comparison of the participants revealed that those who began their training before the age of 7 tended to have a thicker cortex — the outer layer of the brain — in areas linked to auditory processing and self-awareness, the researchers reported.

The study was presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience

Source: Society for Neuroscience


Young boy with music teacher photo by shutterstock.

Early Musical Training Alters Brain Anatomy

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Early Musical Training Alters Brain Anatomy. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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