Successful ageing and music: Preservation of normal neurocognitive ageing in elderly musicians

Responsible : Hervé Platel

Post-doctoral : Mathilde Groussard

Structural changes observed in the anterior part of the hippocampus in subjects musicians compared to nonmusicians subjects left

Neural connections and the organization of neural networks are both modified by what we do and what we think. The musical skills developed by professional musicians induce specific connections and interactions between different brain areas, and previous structural and functional neuroimaging studies have already highlighted the effect of musical training on the brain (Imfeld et al., Neuroimage, 2009; 46: 600-7). The literature on the effects of musical expertise on the brain reports modifications located mainly in the temporal and prefrontal regions (primary and associative auditory cortex, motor areas). These modifications have generally been interpreted as the effect of musicians’ training on their perceptual discrimination and fine motor skills. We are currently studying the potential effects of musical expertise on memory capacity. In this field, we recently demonstrated functional and structural differences between the hippocampus of young adult musicians and nonmusicians (18-35 years). In the former, hippocampal activation was significantly greater, while the structure itself was also larger (Groussard M, La Joie R, Rauchs G, Landeau B, Chételat G, Viader F, Desgranges B, Eustache F, Platel H (2010). When music and long-term memory interact: effects of musical expertise on functional and structural plasticity in the hippocampus. PLoS One); figure against


This project will therefore seek to establish whether musical expertise in older people protects them from the deleterious neurocognitive effects of normal ageing, particularly with regard to memory mechanisms.