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December 2021

Music training and mental imagery ability

Author(s): Nieuwenstein, M. R., Bocker, K. B., de Haan, E. H.

Journal/Book: Neuropsychologia. 2000; 38: 1664-1668.

Abstract: Neuroimaging studies have suggested that the auditory cortex is involved in music processing as well as in auditory imagery. We hypothesized that music training may be associated with improved auditory imagery ability. In this study, performance of musically trained and musically naive subjects was compared on: (1) a musical mental imagery task (in which subjects had to mentally compare pitches of notes corresponding to lyrics taken from familiar songs); (2) a non- musical auditory imagery task (in which subjects had to mentally compare the acoustic characteristics of everyday sounds); and (3) a comparable measure of visual imagery (in which subjects had to mentally compare visual forms of objects). The musically trained group did not only perform better on the musical imagery task, but also outperformed musically naive subjects on the non-musical auditory imagery task. In contrast, the two groups did not differ on the visual imagery task. This finding is discussed in relation to theoretical proposals about music processing and brain activity.

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