Emergence of biological markers of musicianship with school-based music instruction

Nina Kraus*, Dana L. Strait

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Musician children and adults demonstrate biological distinctions in auditory processing relative to nonmusicians. For example, musician children and adults have more robust neural encoding of speech harmonics, more adaptive sound processing, and more precise neural encoding of acoustically similar sounds; these enhancements may contribute to musicians' linguistic advantages, such as for hearing speech in noise and reading. Such findings have inspired proposals that the auditory and cognitive stimulation induced by musical practice renders musicians enhanced according to biological metrics germane to communication. Cross-sectional methodologies comparing musicians with nonmusicians, however, are limited by the inability to disentangle training-related effects from demographic and innate qualities that may predistinguish musicians. Over the past several years, our laboratory has addressed this problem by examining the emergence of neural markers of musicianship in children and adolescents using longitudinal approaches to track the development of biological indices of speech processing. This work was conducted in partnership with successful community-based music programs, thus avoiding reliance on a synthetic program for the purposes of laboratory study. Outcomes indicate that many of musicians' auditory-related biological enhancements emerge with training and may promote the acquisition of language skills, including in at-risk populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Brain
  • Brainstem
  • Children
  • Community interventions
  • Musicians
  • Plasticity
  • Speech
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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