The Connection Between Neuroanatomy And Function During Listening And Playing The Piano

The Connection Between Neuroanatomy And Function During Listening And Playing The Piano

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Musical performance is a complex activity, involving perceptual, cognitive, motor and kinesthetic skills (Parsons, Sergent, Hodges, & Fox, 2005). Music is considered to improve the relationships within a classroom, encourage positive attitudes (Azizinezhad, Hashemi, & Darvishi, 2013), enhance the reading ability (Tierney & Kraus, 2013) and improve creative thinking (Corakli & Batibay, 2012). In the relevant literature the majority of studies focus on the brain activity of professional pianists, with a few of those comparing them to non-pianists. The general idea is that different brain regions are activated when we listen to the piano and different when we play it. Auditory and motor processes are prevalent in both occasions, while music imagery takes an active role when playing the piano without sound feedback. The aim of this essay is to interpret the connection between neuroanatomy and function during listening and playing the piano. The different tasks of piano playing will be considered, like playing different types of music or playing without listening to the music produced.





1. Differences in brain activation between pianists and non-pianists when listening to music

When we listen to music, several brain regions are triggered, as our brain goes through various functions, such as processing the music. Both for musicians and non-musicians the cerebral activation refers to the bilateral superior temporal gyri (STG), the frontal and parietal lobes (Bangert et al., 2006), as well as the cortical motor areas (Meister et al., 2004). These areas are involved in motor preparation and imagery, while they take part in the perception of music (Bangert et al., 2006). Also, areas connected to emotion and reward are active during mu...


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...w to play the piano.



Just reading music scores for non- pianists stimulates the superior and inferior parietal lobule, which was not strongly activated in pianists, due to the many years of practice (Bengtsson & Ullén, 2006; Lotze, Scheler, Tan, Braun, & Birbaumer, 2003), the planum temporale and the bilateral dorsal premotor cortex, as it links to organizing the execution of movement (Parsons et al., 2005). Also, activation was observed in the cerebellum and the somatosensory and premotor areas (Engel et al., 2012). However, when compared to well-trained individuals, the activation here was weaker, as the participants were not well trained pianists and therefore reading the music scores was not as stimulating as for musicians. In addition, there was some activation in the right middle temporal cortex, which was not observed in musicians (Hasegawa et al., 2004).

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