Tuning a piano 'moulds the mind': Study

Tuning a piano 'moulds the mind': Study

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Tuning a piano 'moulds the mind': Study

Playing the piano can have positive effects on the region of the brain that governs memory and navigation, a new study has found.

Researchers at University College London and Newcastle University, who studied the structural changes within the brains of professional piano tuners, found that listening to two notes played simultaneously makes the brain adapt.

These correlated with the number of years tuners had been doing this job, the ‘BBC News’ reported.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 19 professional piano tuners who play two notes simultaneously to make them pitch-perfect, and 19 other people.

They found highly specific changes in both the grey matter - the nerve cells where information processing takes place - and the white matter - the nerve connections - within the brains of the piano tuners.

“We already know that musical training can correlate with structural changes, but our group of professionals offered a rare opportunity to examine the ability of the brain to adapt over time to a very specialised form of listening,” researcher Sundeep Teki said.

Earlier studies have also noted similar hippocampal changes in taxi drivers as they build up detailed information needed to find their way around London’s labyrinth of streets.

“There has been little work on the role of the hippocampus in auditory analysis,” said Prof Tim Griffiths, who led the latest study.

“Our study is consistent with a form of navigation in pitch space as opposed to the more accepted role in spatial navigation,” Griffiths said.

The study is published in the journal ‘Neuroscience’.