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The Science and Technology of Music


Research Project: Brain organization in cello learning

Back to Research Field: Music Perception and Cognition

Brain organization in cello learning

  Research Project Information
Runtime: Sep 03, 2010 until Aug 30, 2011
Project coordination: Virginia Penhune
Scientific staff: Virginia Penhune; Marcelo Wanderley; Robert Zatorre

This project aims at studying the large individual differences in the ability to learn complex motor skills, such as playing an instrument. Specifically, it consist on an experiment to use measures of brain structure and function to assess the individual differences in the brain that predict initial ability to learn a musical instrument, and then to test whether those regions that show pre-existing differences will be modulated by training. 10 non-musicians will undergo structural (T1 and DTI) and functional MR scanning before and after six weeks of cello training to investigate the predictors of individual performance, and changes associated with learning. Participants will be trained to produce five melodies based on the same five notes. Improvements in performance over the six-week period will be tracked through changes in finger position, bow position, bow force and timing measures collected from the MR-compatible cello during scanning and behavioral test sessions.