Musical training and brain volume in older adults

Laura Chaddock-Heyman, Psyche Loui, Timothy B. Weng, Robert Weisshappel, Edward McAuley, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Musical practice, including musical training and musical performance, has been found to benefit cognitive function in older adults. Less is known about the role of musical experiences on brain structure in older adults. The present study examined the role of different types of musical behaviors on brain structure in older adults. We administered the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index, a questionnaire that includes questions about a variety of musical behaviors, including performance on an instrument, musical practice, allocation of time to music, musical listening expertise, and emotional responses to music. We demonstrated that musical training, defined as the extent of musical training, musical practice, and musicianship, was positively and significantly associated with the volume of the inferior frontal cortex and parahippocampus. In addition, musical training was positively associated with volume of the posterior cingulate cortex, insula, and medial orbitofrontal cortex. Together, the present study suggests that musical behaviors relate to a circuit of brain regions involved in executive function, memory, language, and emotion. As gray matter often declines with age, our study has promising implications for the positive role of musical practice on aging brain health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number50
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Aging
  • Brain structure
  • Music
  • Musical training
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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