Distributed neural network underlying musical sight-reading and keyboard performance

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Science  03 Jul 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5066, pp. 106-109
DOI: 10.1126/science.1621084


Music, like other forms of expression, requires specific skills for its production, and the organization and representation of these skills in the human brain are not well understood. With the use of positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, the functional neuroanatomy of musical sight-reading and keyboard performance was studied in ten professional pianists. Reading musical notations and translating these notations into movement patterns on a keyboard resulted in activation of cortical areas distinct from, but adjacent to, those underlying similar verbal operations. These findings help explain why brain damage in musicians may or may not affect both verbal and musical functions depending on the size and location of the damaged area.

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