Review

Predispositions and Plasticity in Music and Speech Learning: Neural Correlates and Implications

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Science  01 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6158, pp. 585-589
DOI: 10.1126/science.1238414

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Abstract

Speech and music are remarkable aspects of human cognition and sensory-motor processing. Cognitive neuroscience has focused on them to understand how brain function and structure are modified by learning. Recent evidence indicates that individual differences in anatomical and functional properties of the neural architecture also affect learning and performance in these domains. Here, neuroimaging findings are reviewed that reiterate evidence of experience-dependent brain plasticity, but also point to the predictive validity of such data in relation to new learning in speech and music domains. Indices of neural sensitivity to certain stimulus features have been shown to predict individual rates of learning; individual network properties of brain activity are especially relevant in this regard, as they may reflect anatomical connectivity. Similarly, numerous studies have shown that anatomical features of auditory cortex and other structures, and their anatomical connectivity, are predictive of new sensory-motor learning ability. Implications of this growing body of literature are discussed.

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