4aMU1. Singing in the brain: Professional singers, occasional singers, and out‐of‐tune singers.

Session: Thursday Morning, Oct 29

Author: Gottfried Schlaug
Location: Music and Neuroimaging Lab., Dept. of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Ctr. and Harvard Med. School, Boston, MA 02215, gschlaug@bidmc.harvard.edu


Speaking and singing are the two most complex communication systems of the human being, and perhaps in all of nature, both of which call on extensive cortical and subcortical resources in the brain. Singing is a combination of language and music that taps brain centers involved in both forms of communication and may rely more on right than left fronto‐temporal brain structures. I will present results of research studies that examined the neural correlates of singing in professional singers, in occasional singers, and in individuals that sing out of tune. These “tone‐deaf” singers lack some of the connections between auditory and motor brain regions that play a critical role in the feedback and feedforward control of vocal communications. These same brain structures are enhanced in professional singers and the duration of training as a singer correlates with gray and white matter enhancements seen in their brains. Ongoing studies are examining the development of these brain regions in children with and without musical training.