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Musical Training Increases Blood Flow to the Left Side of the Brain

May 08, 2014 10:07 AM EDT

(Photo : REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni )

New research suggests that musical training can increase blood flow in the left hemisphere of the human brain.

The study by researchers at University of Liverpool shows that brain areas associated with learning and music share common neural pathways.

The small study included 14 musicians and nine non-musicians. Researchers looked at their brain while the participants completed tasks related to music or word generation.

Brain activity for both tasks was similar in musicians, but not in non-musicians, researchers found.

In another experiment, researchers looked at the brain activity pattern of a different set of non-musicians participants who completed the word reference and musical perception task.

The test was repeated after half an hour of musical training. Researchers found that even a brief period of musical training affects blood flow pathway in the brain.

"It was fascinating to see that the similarities in blood flow signatures could be brought about after just half an hour of simple musical training," Amy Spray, who conducted the research as part of a School of Psychology Summer Internship Scheme, said in a news release

"This suggests that the correlated brain patterns were the result of using areas thought to be involved in language processing. Therefore we can assume that musical training results in a rapid change in the cognitive mechansims utilised for music perception and these shared mechanisms are usually employed for language," Dr Georg Mayer, Liverpool Psychologist, explained.

Previous research has shown that the brains of Jazz musicians have common brain circuitry for music and language. Related studies have shown that musicians are good at integrating sensory information such as touch, sight and hearing.

The latest study paper is called 'The effects of musical training on cerebral lateralization patterns- a functional transcranial Doppler ultrasonography study.'

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