Musicians Have Brains With Stronger Connections Than Non-musicians

The brains of musicians have stronger structural and functional connections compared to those of non-musicians, regardless of innate pitch ability, according to new research from JNeurosci.

Years of musical training shape the brain in dramatic ways. A minority of musicians — with Mozart and Michael Jackson in their ranks — also possess absolute pitch, the ability to identify a tone without a reference. But, it remains unclear how this ability impacts the brain.

In the biggest sample to date, Leipold et al. compared the brains of professional musicians, some with absolute pitch and some without, to non-musicians. To the team’s surprise, there were no strong differences between the brains of musicians with and without absolute pitch ability; instead absolute pitch may shape the brain in more subtle ways.
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