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Playing music by professional musicians activates genes responsible for brain function and singing of songbirds

Date:
March 27, 2015
Source:
University of Helsinki
Summary:
Although music perception and practice are well preserved in human evolution, the biological determinants of music practice are largely unknown. According to a latest study, music performance by professional musicians enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor behavior, learning and memory. Interestingly, several of those up-regulated genes were also known to be responsible for song production in songbirds, which suggests a potential evolutionary conservation in sound perception and production across species.
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Music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor behavior, learning and memory.
Credit: © stokkete / Fotolia

Although music perception and practice are well preserved in human evolution, the biological determinants of music practice are largely unknown. According to a latest study, music performance by professional musicians enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor behavior, learning and memory.

Interestingly, several of those up-regulated genes were also known to be responsible for song production in songbirds, which suggests a potential evolutionary conservation in sound perception and production across species.

Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from Tapiola Sinfonietta (a professional orchestra) and Sibelius-Academy (a music university).

Playing music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor function, learning and memory. Some of the up-regulated genes like SNCA, FOS and DUSP1 are known to contribute to song perception and production in songbirds suggesting a potential evolutionary conservation in molecular mechanisms related to sound production across species. In addition, several of the up-regulated genes are known to be involved in biological pathways like calcium ion homeostasis and iron ion homeostasis that are essential for neuronal function, survival and neuroprotection.

"The findings provide a valuable background for molecular studies of music perception and evolution, and music therapy," tells Dr Irma Järvelä, the leader of the study.


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Materials provided by University of Helsinki. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chakravarthi Kanduri, Tuire Kuusi, Minna Ahvenainen, Anju K. Philips, Harri Lähdesmäki, Irma Järvelä. The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 9506 DOI: 10.1038/srep09506

Cite This Page:

University of Helsinki. "Playing music by professional musicians activates genes responsible for brain function and singing of songbirds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150327090905.htm>.
University of Helsinki. (2015, March 27). Playing music by professional musicians activates genes responsible for brain function and singing of songbirds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150327090905.htm
University of Helsinki. "Playing music by professional musicians activates genes responsible for brain function and singing of songbirds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150327090905.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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