Photo credit: Maciej Urbanek
Some people's brains are simply better at music.
That is the contention of new research from scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute according to the Oxford journal Cerebral Cortex.
They analysed the brains of fifteen novice keyboard players using an FMRI or Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine. As they expected, after five weeks of music lessons the same tests found that some areas of the brain did change after learning music. The brains behaved differently - the parietal cortex and premotor cortex were more active (understood to be linked to the perception of sound and planning movement).
But more importantly, the scientists were able to predict who would be the best players before the lessons even took place by identifying those with a hyperactive Heschl's gyrus (part of the cerebral cortex associated with pitch) and activity in the right hippocampus (linked to auditory memory).
This, Dr Zatorre told the Wall Street Journal, "gives you an advantage when you’re learning music, and it’s a completely different system from the parts of the brain that show learning has taken place.”
As we've all probably discovered in our own lives, some of us pick up things more easily than others. And the same goes for music. However, do not be put off a music career. As research in brain plasticity has suggested, we have the power to change our brains through experience - a comforting thought.