Musicians benefit from real-life advantages, such as a greater ability to hear speech in noise and to remember sounds, although the biological mechanisms driving such advantages remain undetermined. Furthermore, the extent to which these advantages are a consequence of musical training or innate characteristics that predispose a given individual to pursue music training is often debated. Here, we examine biological underpinnings of musicians' auditory advantages and the mediating role of auditory working memory. Results from our laboratory are presented within a framework that emphasizes auditory working memory as a major factor in the neural processing of sound. Within this framework, we provide evidence for music training as a contributing source of these abilities.
© 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.