Long-term musical training induces white matter plasticity in emotion and language networks

Li Kai Cheng, Yu Hsien Chiu, Ying Chia Lin, Wei Chi Li, Tzu Yi Hong, Ching Ju Yang, Chung Heng Shih, Tzu Chen Yeh, Wen Yih Isaac Tseng, Hsin Yen Yu, Jen Chuen Hsieh*, Li Fen Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous studies have reported that long-term musical training can affect brain functionality and induce structural alterations in the brain. Singing is a form of vocal musical expression with an unparalleled capacity for communicating emotion; however, there has been relatively little research on neuroplasticity at the network level in vocalists (i.e., noninstrumental musicians). Our objective in this study was to elucidate changes in the neural network architecture following long-term training in the musical arts. We employed a framework based on graph theory to depict the connectivity and efficiency of structural networks in the brain, based on diffusion-weighted images obtained from 35 vocalists, 27 pianists, and 33 nonmusicians. Our results revealed that musical training (both voice and piano) could enhance connectivity among emotion-related regions of the brain, such as the amygdala. We also discovered that voice training reshaped the architecture of experience-dependent networks, such as those involved in vocal motor control, sensory feedback, and language processing. It appears that vocal-related changes in areas such as the insula, paracentral lobule, supramarginal gyrus, and putamen are associated with functional segregation, multisensory integration, and enhanced network interconnectivity. These results suggest that long-term musical training can strengthen or prune white matter connectivity networks in an experience-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • brain asymmetry
  • emotion
  • graph theory
  • language
  • structural connectivity
  • vocal training


Dive into the research topics of 'Long-term musical training induces white matter plasticity in emotion and language networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this