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date: 18 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines ways in which listening to or making music changes our brains morphologically and functionally. Evidence for short-term plasticity in response to music is reviewed. Critical periods early in life, when exposure to music and music training can alter brain development, are summarized. Evidence that the brains of musicians and nonmusicians differ is presented. It is shown that nonmusicians process music primarily in the nondominant cerebral hemisphere, while musicians have structural and functional shifts of lateralization to the dominant cerebral hemisphere. This shift is discussed in terms of a theory that nonmusicians process music holistically in the nondominant cerebral hemisphere, while trained musicians tend to apply syntax to music, using language-processing circuitry in the dominant cerebral hemisphere.

Keywords: musician, nonmusician, neural plasticity, lateralization, critical period, music, language, brain changes

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