Scientific article
Open access

Music interventions in 132 healthy older adults enhance cerebellar grey matter and auditory working memory, despite general brain atrophy

Published inNeuroImage. Reports, vol. 3, no. 2, 100166
Publication date2023-06
First online date2023-03-23

Normal aging is associated with brain atrophy and cognitive decline. Working memory, involved in cognitive functioning and daily living, is particularly affected. Music training gained momentum in research on brain plasticity and possible transfer effects of interventions on working memory, especially in the context of healthy aging. This longitudinal voxel-based morphometry study evaluated effects of 6-month music interventions on grey matter volume plasticity and auditory working memory performance in 132 healthy older adults. This study is part of a randomized controlled trial comparing two interventions: piano practice (experimental group) and musical culture (musical listening awareness, active control). We report significant grey matter volume increase at whole-brain level in the caudate nucleus, Rolandic operculum and inferior cerebellum when merging both groups, but no group differences. Cerebellar grey matter increase, training intensity metrics and sleep were positively associated with tonal working memory improvement. Digit Span Backward verbal working memory performance also increased. Using region of interest analyses, we showed a group difference in the right primary auditory cortex grey matter volume, decreasing in the musical group while staying stable in the piano group. In contrast, a significant 6-month whole-brain atrophy pattern consistent with longer-term investigations of the aging brain was revealed. We argue that education for seniors should become a major policy priority in the framework of healthy aging, to promote brain plasticity and cognitive reserve, through stimulating group interventions such as music-making and active listening.

  • Brain plasticity
  • Working memory
  • Atrophy
  • Grey matter
  • Music
  • Aging
Citation (ISO format)
MARIE, Damien et al. Music interventions in 132 healthy older adults enhance cerebellar grey matter and auditory working memory, despite general brain atrophy. In: NeuroImage. Reports, 2023, vol. 3, n° 2, p. 100166. doi: 10.1016/j.ynirp.2023.100166
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ISSN of the journal2666-9560

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