Nature Reviews Neuroscience 3, 473-478 (June 2002) | doi:10.1038/nrn843

OpinionThe musician's brain as a model of neuroplasticity

Thomas F. Münte1, Eckart Altenmüller2 & Lutz Jäncke3  About the authors


Studies of experience-driven neuroplasticity at the behavioural, ensemble, cellular and molecular levels have shown that the structure and significance of the eliciting stimulus can determine the neural changes that result. Studying such effects in humans is difficult, but professional musicians represent an ideal model in which to investigate plastic changes in the human brain. There are two advantages to studying plasticity in musicians: the complexity of the eliciting stimulus — music — and the extent of their exposure to this stimulus. Here, we focus on the functional and anatomical differences that have been detected in musicians by modern neuroimaging methods.

Author affiliations

  1. Thomas F. Münte is at the Department of Neuropsychology, Otto-von-Guericke University, Universitätsplatz 2, Gebäude 24, 39106 Magdeburg, Germany.
  2. Eckart Altenmüller is at the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine, Hannover School of Music and Drama, Emmich Platz 1, 30175 Hannover, Germany.
  3. Lutz Jäncke is at the Department of Neuropsychology, University of Zürich, Zürichberg Strasse 43, CH-8044 Zürich, Switzerland.

Correspondence to: Thomas F. Münte1 Email:

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