The impact of music practice on functional plasticity in 42 healthy elderly: effects on working memory networks as measured by fMRI

DirectorsJames, Claraorcid
Master program titleMaîtrise universitaire en neurosciences
Defense date2022-01-27

Executive functions such as working memory are particularly vulnerable to age-related cognitive decline. Previous interventional studies showed promising cognitive and neural plasticity results in the elderly brain, with a potential protective role against aging. The multimodal nature of musical practice and its ability to shape the brain makes it particularly interesting in the effort to find ways to decrease cognitive decline. Despite that, only a few studies investigated the neural mechanisms underlying musical training in elderly. Here, we assessed the effect of two different 6-month musical intervention on functional plasticity with a tonal working memory (WM) fMRI task in 42 musically naïve healthy elderly (62–78 years). Participants were assigned to either the intervention group (n=24), which received a 6-month piano training, or an active control group (n=18), which received culture musical training. At baseline and after 6 months, fMRI and cognitive measurements (digit span and digit symbol) were administered. Behavioral data revealed that the intervention group significantly improved during tonal WM task and both groups improved during attentional and verbal WM tasks. Neuroimaging results shown an activity increase in occipital regions in both groups. In intervention group only, others activation increases were found, including bilateral insula, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), middle cingulate cortex, medial superior frontal gyrus (medSFG), inferior frontal gyrus, Heschl’s gyrus, precentral gyrus, and left precuneus. Interaction between time and group underlined an increase in favor of piano group in right Heschl’s gyrus and, in bilateral ACC and medSFG. In addition, we found a relation between activity increase in piano group and task behavior. Piano practice showed behavioral advantages and an extended effect on functional plasticity, including regions associated with the representation of tonal information processing, attention and error detection. Piano intervention allowed for an additional recruitment of regions. Additional recruitment of cognitive resources following piano training is a promising result for aging research. The piano advantage did not relate to other psychometric measures. As both groups improved, it might suggest that in general, musical training (instrumental or not) can play a protective role against aging.

  • Working memory
  • Musical training
  • FMRI
  • Aging
Citation (ISO format)
MÜLLER, David Maxime. The impact of music practice on functional plasticity in 42 healthy elderly: effects on working memory networks as measured by fMRI. 2022.
Main files (1)
Master thesis
  • PID : unige:159948

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Creation03/29/2022 10:16:00 AM
First validation03/29/2022 10:16:00 AM
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