Poster A95, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Neuroanatomical differences between monozygotic twins discordant for musical practice
Örjan de Manzano1, Fredrik Ullén1; 1Karolinska Institutet
Using primarily neuroimaging techniques and musical expertise as a model, scientists have studied the neural correlates of skill acquisition and built a convincing case for that musical training can cause brain regions to grow and/or become better developed. However, in arguably all previous studies, training differences were confounded with genetic predispositions. This presents an issue because firstly, brain anatomy is highly heritable in many regions. Secondly, we know that different individuals may require different amounts of practice to reach a certain skill level, and that despite similar amounts of practice there can still be individual differences in skill. Genetic factors could influence brain development in a way that affects self-selection, skill acquisition and achievement within a certain domain, including music. In order to resolve this issue, we have studied a sample of monozygotic (genetically identical) twins who differ greatly in musical training. Using neuroimaging, we found that that even when eliminating genetic influences as a causal factor, large differences in musical practice can nonetheless be associated with significant differences in brain structure. The playing twins had increased cortical thickness, white-matter fractional anisotropy and cerebellar volume in regions which jointly constitute the core of the brain’s auditory-motor network.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Multisensory