The Influence of Musical Training on Patterns of EEG Asymmetry During Musical and Non‐Musical Self‐Generation Tasks

Richard J. Davidson, Gary E. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Musically proficient and non‐proficient right‐handed subjects were requested to list in a pre‐experimental questionnaire three familiar songs, whose words and melody were well known. They were then instructed in two separate experiments, to whistle the melody of a song, talk the lyrics to a song, or sing a song each for 3 1‐min trials performed with eyes closed. EEG was recorded from the left and right occipital areas (O1 and O2) in Experiment I and from the left and right parietal areas (P3 and P4) in Experiment II, and filtered for 8–13 Hz activity on‐line. Comparable results were obtained in both experiments and indicated that non‐musically trained subjects show significantly greater relative right hemisphere activation while whistling the melody of a song vs talking the lyrics to a song. Musically trained subjects show no differences in EEG asymmetry between these tasks. In addition, there were no group differences in asymmetry during the talking and singing conditions. These data are consistent with recent evidence suggesting that musical training is associated with the adoption of an analytic and sequential processing mode toward melodic information, and suggest that long term training in complex cognitive skills has functional neural concomitants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-63
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1977


  • Cerebral lateralization
  • EEG asymmetry
  • Musical training
  • Self‐regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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