DTI Analysis of White Matter Integrity and Cognitive Brain Reserve in Lifelong Musicians and Controls

Author(s): Edna Andrews, Cyrus Eierud, David Banks, Todd Harshbarger, Andrew Michael and Charlotte Rammell.

Previous research has focused on structural and functional changes to the human brain by training and experience in both linguistic (esp. bilingualism) and musical domains. While normal aging produces trends of decreasing WM integrity, research on cognitive brain reserve suggests that complex sensory-motor activities across the life span may slow down or reverse these trends. The current study incorporates findings from our recent DTI study of lifelong musicianship and building cognitive brain reserve [1] and expands that analysis to include age and education matched non-musician controls. Reinforcing previous results, we show that nonmusician controls in aging do not show the increases in WM integrity found in the subcortical tracts in lifelong musicians and that the difference between the groups was significant (p = 0.0065).

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