Music training alters the course of adolescent auditory development

Adam T. Tierney, Jennifer Krizman, Nina Kraus*, Paula Tallal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Fundamental changes in brain structure and function during adolescence are well-characterized, but the extent to which experience modulates adolescent neurodevelopment is not. Musical experience provides an ideal case for examining this question because the influence of music training begun early in life is wellknown. We investigated the effects of in-school music training, previously shown to enhance auditory skills, versus another inschool training program that did not focus on development of auditory skills (active control). We tested adolescents on neural responses to sound and language skills before they entered high school (pretraining) and again 3 y later. Here, we show that inschool music training begun in high school prolongs the stability of subcortical sound processing and accelerates maturation of cortical auditory responses. Although phonological processing improved in both the music training and active control groups, the enhancement was greater in adolescents who underwent music training. Thus, music training initiated as late as adolescence can enhance neural processing of sound and confer benefits for language skills. These results establish the potential for experience-driven brain plasticity during adolescence and demonstrate that in-school programs can engender these changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10062-10067
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015


  • Auditory
  • Music
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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