Public Release: 

Musical training improves visual timing

Counterintuitive finding demonstrates superior sensory learning and memory from cross-training the brain's audio and visual systems

Society for Neuroscience


IMAGE: Figure 1. DCI's Bluecoats color guard demonstrate musical sensorimotor synchronization (SMS) via radial and rotational motion. (Creative Commons Image) view more 

Credit: Matthews et al., eNeuro (2018)

Drummers and brass players are better able to judge the timing of visual stimuli than members of the color guard, according to a naturalistic study of the world-class drum corps Bluecoats published in eNeuro. This counterintuitive finding extends previous research demonstrating superior sensory learning and memory from cross-training the brain's audio and visual systems.

During an intensive, five-week spring training program, Nestor Matthews and colleagues compared the ability of young adult Bluecoat percussionists, brass players, and color guard to detect the order of moving stimuli mimicking the color guards' visual displays. This study design enabled the researchers to investigate the effect of musical and visual training on visual timing, while controlling for experience and skill level.

The results reveal percussionists perform the task more precisely and quickly than brass players, who perform better than the color guard. Taken together with findings from neuroimaging and brain stimulation research, this pattern suggests musical training shapes cortical areas responsible for synchronizing rhythm and behavior.


Article: Superior Visual Timing Sensitivity in Auditory but not Visual World Class Drum Corps Experts
DOI: Corresponding author: Nestor Matthews (Denison University, Granville OH, USA)

About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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