Musicians’ brains are different

Brain scans have found that the corpus callosum, the contection but the two halves of musicians’ brains tends to be significant enlarged in comparison the corpus callosum found in the brains of the non-musicans. A number of other differences between the brains of musicians and non-musicians have been found, including enlargements to the cortex, auditory and motor parts of the brain. Another finding was that music tends to be processed in the left hemisphere of musician’s brains in the same areas as language, whereas the right hemisphere tends to be responsible for this task in the brains of non-musicians.

Oliver Sacks’ book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain discusses these findings, and other music and language-related cases, including one of a man who after being struck by lightening, developed an overwhelming urge to play the piano and to compose music, and felt that he was actually tuning in to the music of heaven.

This entry was posted in Language, Music.

9 Responses to Musicians’ brains are different

  1. MM says:

    I think I have solved the first sentence despite not being musical.

  2. David says:

    I’ve long thought that musical abilities tie into language abilities to some extent. In my experience it’s a bit easier for someone with an ear for music to pick up new sounds in other languages, even when those sounds don’t exist in their native language.

  3. Lyydie says:

    Interesting. I’ve never had the chance to develop musical abilities, but I love languages and have been told I have an ear for them.

  4. BG says:

    What exactly constitutes a musician? I think I would consider myself one, but if someone plays lets say trumpet in middle school for a few years do they undergo this brain change? Could the man who who was struck by lightning have had the side of brain that processed music switched, thus giving him the urge and ability to compose/play piano?

  5. Simon says:

    BG – I think you have to play an instrument for more than a few years in middle school for changes to happen in your brain. By musicians, they appear to mean people who play an instrument regularly and have been doing so for many years, usually from an early age.

    There are articles about this here and here. According to the second one, the changes in the brain are most noticeable in those who started their musical training before the age of seven.

  6. BG says:

    Thanks for the articles. I had a feeling that it would take a while. While I didn’t start playing instruments (mostly Tuba and Tenor Saxophone) until I was eight, I have played them for quite a few years now.

  7. Ross says:

    Here’s an interesting twist on the musical brain. My father in law lost the ability to speak clearly after a stroke. Though his speech was impeded he found that he could communicate effectively if he sang the words he wished to speak. Though he was not a musician he had always been one of those guys who liked to sing little songs all day. Perhaps singing has a similar effect to that of being a musician.

  8. James says:

    I trained as a clasical flautist and was a semi pro musician for a while and though I have kinda stopped the 4 hours a day practice I still play regularly (though not daily). I found the practice of really intense listening that I was taught as a flautist very valuable in learning Spanish. Now I don´t know if my brain has been rewired, but I think the music helped.

  9. jude says:

    does anyone know where i can find oliver sacks book, music and the brain in russian language? i wonder if it has been translated.

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