Early musical training shapes cortico-cerebellar structural covariation.

TitleEarly musical training shapes cortico-cerebellar structural covariation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsShenker JJ, Steele CJ, Chakravarty MM, Zatorre RJ, Penhune VB
JournalBrain Struct Funct
Date Published2021 Oct 17

Adult abilities in complex cognitive domains such as music appear to depend critically on the age at which training or experience begins, and relevant experience has greater long-term effects during periods of peak maturational change. Previous work has shown that early trained musicians (ET; < age 7) out-perform later-trained musicians (LT; > age 7) on tests of musical skill, and also have larger volumes of the ventral premotor cortex (vPMC) and smaller volumes of the cerebellum. These cortico-cerebellar networks mature and function in relation to one another, suggesting that early training may promote coordinated developmental plasticity. To test this hypothesis, we examined structural covariation between cerebellar volume and cortical thickness (CT) in sensorimotor regions in ET and LT musicians and non-musicians (NMs). Results show that ETs have smaller volumes in cerebellar lobules connected to sensorimotor cortices, while both musician groups had greater cortical thickness in right pre-supplementary motor area (SMA) and right PMC compared to NMs. Importantly, early musical training had a specific effect on structural covariance between the cerebellum and cortex: NMs showed negative correlations between left lobule VI and right pre-SMA and PMC, but this relationship was reduced in ET musicians. ETs instead showed a significant negative correlation between vermal IV and right pre-SMA and dPMC. Together, these results suggest that early musical training has differential impacts on the maturation of cortico-cerebellar networks important for optimizing sensorimotor performance. This conclusion is consistent with the hypothesis that connected brain regions interact during development to reciprocally influence brain and behavioral maturation.

Alternate JournalBrain Struct Funct
PubMed ID34657166
Grant ListRGPIN-2020-06812 / / Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada /
DGECR-2020-00146 / / Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada /
HNC 170723 / CAPMC / CIHR / Canada
143217 / CAPMC / CIHR / Canada
143217 / / Canadian Institute of Health Research /