Drummers seem to alter the way the left and right sides of their brains communicate after years of practice. The wiring that connects the two hemispheres of a drummer’s brain differs greatly from that of non-musicians, per a new study.
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Drumming is a special kind of expertise. Drummers are able to concurrently do various rhythmic duties with all four of their limbs. It is impossible for someone who is not a drummer to coordinate this.
“While most individuals can perform easy motor tasks with two hands at a similar level, very few individuals can perform complex fine motor tasks with both hands equally well,” the authors of the most recent study say.
Despite drummers’ extraordinary skills, no research has examined the drummer’s brain to date.
Recently, several researchers decided to look at brain alterations related to drumming.
The study was published in the journal Brain and BehaviorTrusted Source by the authors, who are from the biopsychology research unit at Ruhr-Universität and the Bergmannsheil University Clinic in Bochum, Germany.
The scientists enlisted 20 professional drummers who practiced for an average of 10.5 hours a week and had an average age of 17 years to conduct their investigation. Additionally, 24 control participants who did not play any musical instruments were enlisted.
The scientists measured several aspects of the structure and function of their brains using MRI scanning technology.
Previous researchStudies on different kinds of musicians have demonstrated that years of practicing an instrument causes changes and adaptations in the brain.
These research have mostly looked at alterations in the cortex gray matter, which is made up of areas in charge of speech, memory, perception, decision-making, and a lot more.
However, the authors of the most recent study concentrated on white matter, the brain’s information superhighway.
The contralateral hemisphere, or left side of the brain, usually controls right-handedness when performing tasks with the right hand. Both sides of the brain typically work together when someone uses their left hand to complete a task.
The thick band of white matter that connects the two hemispheres, the corpus callosum, is crucial to this hemisphere asymmetry.
Trunks of fibers called white matter connects remote brain regions. White matter was once thought to be little more than helpful wiring by scientists. However, they now consider it to be far more important to the regular operation of the brain.
The corpus callosum was the primary focus of the current study’s authors. Since they think that a drummer’s “remarkable ability to uncouple the motor trajectories of [their] two hands is likely related to inhibitory functions of the corpus callosum,” this is where they concentrated.
The structure of the corpus callosum varied between drummers and non-drummers, as was to be predicted.
Scientists discovered that the front, or anterior, region of a drummer’s corpus callosum had faster rates of diffusion than the controls. This shows “microstructural alterations,” as the authors clarify. What kind of structural alterations have taken place is the following query.
Higher diffusion rates in the corpus callosum are not regarded favorably clinically. It typically suggests white matter loss or injury, as in multiple sclerosis patients. All of these individuals were young and in good health, so an alternative explanation for the discovery is needed.
The anterior corpus callosum of drummers is thought to have fewer fibers than that of non-drummers, but the fibers that do exist are thicker. Because thicker fibers transmit impulses more quickly, this is significant.
In fact, researchers have previously demonstrated a correlation between mean diffusion scores and faster hemisphere-to-hemisphere transfer times.
The authors state that “the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [which is] related to decision-making during voluntary movement, as well as different areas related to motor planning and execution” are among the brain regions connected by the anterior section of the corpus callosum.
Using specialized software, the researchers assessed each participant’s drumming prowess as part of the study. The test featured a range of drum rhythms with different levels of intricacy, all based on game console technology.
The program created a score based on how well each drummer replicated a predetermined drum rhythm. As expected, the drummers outperformed the control group in terms of scoring.