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Singing training predicts increased insula connectivity with speech and respiratory sensorimotor areas at rest

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  • A. M. Zamorano, Aalborg University
  • ,
  • R. J. Zatorre, McGill University, International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research
  • ,
  • P. Vuust
  • A. Friberg, Royal Institute of Technology
  • ,
  • N. Birbaumer, University of Tübingen
  • ,
  • B. Kleber

The insula contributes to the detection of salient events during goal-directed behavior and participates in the coordination of motor, multisensory, and cognitive systems. Recent task-fMRI studies with trained singers suggest that singing experience can enhance the access to these resources. However, the long-term effects of vocal training on insula-based networks are still unknown. In this study, we employed resting-state fMRI to assess experience-dependent differences in insula co-activation patterns between conservatory-trained singers and non-singers. Results indicate enhanced bilateral anterior insula connectivity in singers relative to non-singers with constituents of the speech sensorimotor network. Specifically, with the cerebellum (lobule V-VI) and the superior parietal lobes. The reversed comparison showed no effects. The amount of accumulated singing training predicted enhanced bilateral insula co-activation with primary sensorimotor areas representing the diaphragm and the larynx/phonation area–crucial regions for cortico-motor control of complex vocalizations—as well as the bilateral thalamus and the left putamen. Together, these findings highlight the neuroplastic effect of expert singing training on insula-based networks, as evidenced by the association between enhanced insula co-activation profiles in singers and the brain's speech motor system components.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148418
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Expertise, Larynx, Respiration, rs-fMRI, Singing, Voice

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