Understanding the benefits of musical training: effects on oscillatory brain activity

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jul;1169:133-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04589.x.


A number of studies suggest that musical training has benefits for other cognitive domains, such as language and mathematics, and studies of children and adults indicate structural as well as functional differences between the brains of musicians and nonmusicians. The induced gamma-band response has been associated with attentional, expectation, memory retrieval, and integration of top-down, bottom-up, and multisensory processes. Here we report data indicating that the induced gamma-band response to musical sounds is larger in adult musicians than in nonmusicians and that it develops in children after 1 year of musical training beginning at age 4.5 years, but not in children of this age who are not engaged in musical lessons. We conclude that musical training affects oscillatory networks in the brain associated with executive functions, and that superior executive functioning could enhance learning and performance in many cognitive domains.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Education
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Music*