Adults and Children Processing Music: An fMRI Study

Neuroimage. 2005 May 1;25(4):1068-76. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.12.050.


The present study investigates the functional neuroanatomy of music perception with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Three different subject groups were investigated to examine developmental aspects and effects of musical training: 10-year-old children with varying degrees of musical training, adults without formal musical training (nonmusicians), and adult musicians. Subjects made judgements on sequences that ended on chords that were music-syntactically either regular or irregular. In adults, irregular chords activated the inferior frontal gyrus, orbital frontolateral cortex, the anterior insula, ventrolateral premotor cortex, anterior and posterior areas of the superior temporal gyrus, the superior temporal sulcus, and the supramarginal gyrus. These structures presumably form different networks mediating cognitive aspects of music processing (such as processing of musical syntax and musical meaning, as well as auditory working memory), and possibly emotional aspects of music processing. In the right hemisphere, the activation pattern of children was similar to that of adults. In the left hemisphere, adults showed larger activations than children in prefrontal areas, in the supramarginal gyrus, and in temporal areas. In both adults and children, musical training was correlated with stronger activations in the frontal operculum and the anterior portion of the superior temporal gyrus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Music / psychology*