Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Larry E. Roberts
The phenomenon of cortical plasticity is important for understanding brain functions and treating neural diseases. Recent studies have suggested that neural plasticity contributes to cortical reorganization after accidental amputation of a limb and to recovery of function in stroke victims. Cortical plasticity has also been implicated in musical skills and an enhanced sense of hearing in blind humans. The experiments of this thesis utilize Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and Electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate remodeling of the human auditory cortex by musical training. Characteristics of the transient late auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) and magnetic fields (AEFs) are contrasted between musicians and nonmusicians. The principal goal of the thesis is to establish whether musicians and non-musicians respond differently to stimuli of musical timbre, and to begin to understand how these differences occur. The effect of stimuli properties on AEPs and AEFs and the distinct qualities of the two functional imaging methods are also investigated. Three experiments are reported each showing that P2 responses evoked by musical tones and by pure tones matched in fundamental frequency to the musical tones are larger in musicians than in nonmusicians. Enhancement of the P2 appeared in electrical as well as in magnetic recordings. Evidence for enhancement of P1, N1, and N1c auditory evoked potentials in musicians was also observed, but not under all conditions that were studied. P2, N1, and N1c responses appeared to be influenced by spectral properties of the acoustic stimuli in different ways. The mechanisms underlying these findings are discussed.
Shahin, Antoine J., "Music and the brain: A neuroplastic account" (2003). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2759.