Reference: Koelsch, Stefan, Bjørn-Helmer Schmidt, and Julia Kansok. Effects of Musical expertise on the early right anterior negativity: An event-related brain potential study. Psychophysiology, 39 (2002), 657-663.
By Devon Fornelli
Review: This study aims to investigate influences of experience on auditory information processing. Researchers were interested in studying the advantage of long-term training experience in order to study cortical plasticity, primary auditory cognitive functions and auditory sensory memory mechanisms.
The study aimed to determine whether it was possible to identify differences between musicians’ and non-musicians’ brain activity while they listened to and were asked to identify unusual chord progressions. 18 musical experts and 18 musical novices participated in the experiment.
The stimuli were one hundred and seventy-two different chord sequences which were composed according to the classical rules of harmony (Hindemith, 1940). Each sequence consisted of five chords. The subjects were also being monitored with EEG and ERAN technology.
This study exhibits complex mechanisms observable using ERAN methods, and demonstrates links between music processing can be modulated by expertise and long term formal musical training.
Reflection: With regard to what we have been reading about neuroplasticity and how experience can shape the physical makeup of the brain, it is valuable to have a study such as this that identifies the mechanisms and structures that distinguish the differences in behavior or neurological function between experts and novices in music.