NIN location:Amsterdam (The Netherlands) date:9-12 December 2008
Timing, sequencing and executive control processes contribute to different degrees to the production of simple and complex rhythmic movements (Krampe et al., 2005). Behavioural studies point to age-related and expertise-related differences in underlying processes. Less is known about related changes in their neural substrates. The present study is part of an ongoing fMRI project in which we test repetitive movement timing in young and older professional musicians and non-musicians. For the poster presentation we focus on training and expertise related plasticity in young (20-35 years) professional musicians and non-musicians. Movement timing was assessed in 6 experimental conditions: simple (isochrounous) tapping tasks at three different target durations (A =400ms, B = 800ms, C = 1200 ms); for the rhythm tasks, these intervals were combined to form two individual rhythms (ABC and ACB) and a rhythm switch task (ABC-ACB). Participants without musical experience were tested in each condition over 9 sessions, musicians over 4 sessions. In addition to behavioural measurements from each session, neural correlates were evaluated in pre- and post-training fMRI sessions (second and final session). Preliminary results show significant improvements in performance due to training in non-musicians. Both behavioural measures (mean-variance relation) and cortical activation were modulated by task complexity in the non-musicians, whereas professional musicians showed little or no task modulation. The results are discussed in relation to plastical changes in the brain resulting from expertise, as well as the impact of short-term training on functional brain plasticity.