Cortical activations in primary and secondary motor areas for complex bimanual movements in professional pianists

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2000 Sep;10(1-2):177-83. doi: 10.1016/s0926-6410(00)00028-8.


Hemodynamic responses were measured applying functional magnetic resonance imaging in two professional piano players and two carefully matched non-musician control subjects during the performance of self-paced bimanual and unimanual tapping tasks. The bimanual tasks were chosen because they resemble typical movements pianists have to generate during piano exercises. The results showed that the primary and secondary motor areas (M1, SMA, pre-SMA, and CMA) were considerably activated to a much lesser degree in professional pianists than in non-musicians. This difference was strongest for the pre-SMA and CMA, where professional pianists showed very little activation. The results suggest that the long lasting extensive hand skill training of the pianists leads to greater efficiency which is reflected in a smaller number of active neurons needed to perform given finger movements. This in turn enlarges the possible control capacity for a wide range of movements because more movements, or more 'degrees of freedom', are controllable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Music*
  • Reference Values