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Sep 04, 2015
Long-term music training can improve sensorimotor skills, as playing a musical instrument requires the functional integration of information related to multimodal sensory perception and motor execution. This functional integration often leads to functional reorganization of cerebral cortices, including auditory, visual, and motor areas. Moreover, music appreciation can modulate emotions (e.g., stress relief), and long-term music training can enhance a musician's self-control and self-evaluation ability. Therefore, the neural processing of music can also be related to certain higher brain cognitive functions. However, evidence demonstrating that long-term music training modulates higher brain functions is surprisingly rare. Here, we aimed to comprehensively explore the neural changes induced by long-term music training by assessing the differences of transient and quasi-steady-state auditory-evoked potentials between nonmusicians and musicians. We observed that compared to nonmusicians, musicians have (1) larger high-frequency steady-state responses, which reflect the auditory information processing within the sensory system, and (2) smaller low-frequency vertex potentials, which reflect higher cognitive information processing within the novelty/saliency detection system. Therefore, we speculate that long-term music training facilitates "bottom-up" auditory information processing in the sensory system and enhances "top-down" cognitive inhibition of the novelty/saliency detection system.