Audiovisual structural connectivity in musicians and non-musicians: a cortical thickness and diffusion tensor imaging study

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Our sensory systems provide complementary information about the multimodal objects and events that are the target of perception in everyday life. Professional musicians’ specialization in the auditory domain is reflected in the morphology of their brains, which has distinctive characteristics, particularly in areas related to auditory and audio-motor activity. Here, we combined diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) with a behavioral measure of visually induced gain in pitch discrimination, and we used measures of cortical thickness (CT) correlations to assess how auditory specialization and musical expertise are reflected in the structural architecture of white and grey matter relevant to audiovisual processing. Across all participants (n = 45), we found a correlation (p < 0.001) between reliance on visual cues in pitch discrimination and the fractional anisotropy (FA) in the left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), a structure connecting visual and auditory brain areas. Group analyses also revealed greater cortical thickness correlation between visual and auditory areas in non-musicians (n = 28) compared to musicians (n = 17), possibly reflecting musicians’ auditory specialization (FDR < 10%). Our results corroborate and expand current knowledge of functional specialization with a specific focus on audition, and highlight the fact that perception is essentially multimodal while uni-sensory processing is a specialized task.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer4324
TidsskriftScientific Reports
Vol/bind11
Nummer1
ISSN2045-2322
DOI
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
We thank Tim Johannes van Hartevelt for sharing his DTI-protocol, Sukhbinder Kumar for sharing the original pitch threshold estimation scripts, and Signe Hagner for valuable help with data collection. We would also like to thank the staff at MINDLab Core Experimental Facility, Aarhus University Hospital, and Gabriel Devenyi for technical assistance in data collection and analyses. This project has been supported by seed funding from the Interacting Minds Centre, AU, DK. Center for Music in the Brain is funded by the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF117). The following R packages were used: ggplot296, dplyr97, plyr98, devtools99, tidyverse100, ggpubr101, rstatix102, cowplot103.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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