Convergent evidence for the molecular basis of musical traits

Sci Rep. 2016 Dec 22:6:39707. doi: 10.1038/srep39707.


To obtain aggregate evidence for the molecular basis of musical abilities and the effects of music, we integrated gene-level data from 105 published studies across multiple species including humans, songbirds and several other animals and used a convergent evidence method to prioritize the top candidate genes. Several of the identified top candidate genes like EGR1, FOS, ARC, BDNF and DUSP1 are known to be activity-dependent immediate early genes that respond to sensory and motor stimuli in the brain. Several other top candidate genes like MAPK10, SNCA, ARHGAP24, TET2, UBE2D3, FAM13A and NUDT9 are located on chromosome 4q21-q24, on the candidate genomic region for music abilities in humans. Functional annotation analyses showed the enrichment of genes involved in functions like cognition, learning, memory, neuronal excitation and apoptosis, long-term potentiation and CDK5 signaling pathway. Interestingly, all these biological functions are known to be essential processes underlying learning and memory that are also fundamental for musical abilities including recognition and production of sound. In summary, our study prioritized top candidate genes related to musical traits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avian Proteins / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 4 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*
  • Songbirds / genetics*


  • Avian Proteins