Brain Plasticity and the Concept of Metaplasticity in Skilled Musicians

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;957:197-208. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-47313-0_11.


Early and extensive musical training provides plastic adaptations of the nervous system and enhanced sensory, motor, and cognitive functions. Over decades, neuronal mechanism underlying the plastic adaptation through musical training has been investigated using neuroimaging and transcranial stimulation techniques. Recently, plastic changes in neuroplastic functions through musical training have gradually gained some interest, so-called metaplasticity. Metaplasticity enables faster and more stable skill acquisition for individuals with a history of prior musical training. This mechanism may also serve for prevention of developing maladaptive changes in the nervous system, being pathophysiology of focal dystonia in musicians. The present chapter introduces neurophysiological mechanisms and functional significances of brain plasticity and metaplasticity of the sensory and motor systems of musicians.

Keywords: Dexterity; Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); Dystonia; MRI_imaging; Magnetoencephalography (MEG); Neuroimaging; Piano; Voxel-based morphometry (VBM).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Music*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*