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Genetics Impacts the Effects of Practice

Genetics Impacts the Effects of Practice

Apparently there is more to becoming an accomplished musician than lots of practice, according to a new study.

The music-training research by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, the Neuro, and colleagues in Germany, allowed investigators to determine which parts of the brain are activated through training or practice.

The investigation allowed researchers to distinguish the parts of the brain that account for individual talent from the brain regions that are activated through training.

For the study, investigators performed brain imaging evaluations of 15 young adults with little or no musical background who were scanned before and after they underwent six weeks of musical training. Participants were required to learn simple piano pieces.

Brain activity in certain areas changed after learning, indicating the effect of training. But the activity in a different set of brain structures, measured before the training session had started, predicted which test subjects would learn quickly or slowly.

“Predisposition plays an important role for auditory-motor learning that can be clearly distinguished from training-induced plasticity,” said Dr. Robert Zatorre, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Neuro, and lead author of the study in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

“Our findings pertain to the debate about the relative influence of ‘nature or nurture,’ but also have potential practical relevance for medicine and education.”

Researchers say that future cognitive neuroscience studies will explore the extent to which individual differences in predisposition are a result of brain plasticity due to previous experiences and to people’s genetics.

The findings suggest that custom-made interventions could be created for students and for neurological patients based on their predisposition and needs.

Source: McGill University/EurekAlert

Music and the mind photo by shutterstock.

Genetics Impacts the Effects of Practice

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Genetics Impacts the Effects of Practice. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 29 Jul 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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