Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 224, Issue 5, pp 1781–1795 | Cite as

Dynamic reconfiguration of the functional brain network after musical training in young adults

  • Qiongling Li
  • Xuetong Wang
  • Shaoyi Wang
  • Yongqi Xie
  • Xinwei Li
  • Yachao Xie
  • Shuyu LiEmail author
Original Article


Musical performance strongly depends on continuous and dynamic information integration from the motor, sensory and cognitive systems. Musical training is an excellent model to investigate the plasticity of the dynamics in functional brain networks. Here, we compared the dynamics of the resting-state functional brain network in 29 healthy, young adults (13 males) before and after 24 weeks of piano training (all participants had been novices) with the functional brain network of 27 matched participants (13 males) who were also evaluated longitudinally but without any training. The sliding window approach was used to construct the time-varying functional networks, and the dynamics of 13 well-known functional systems were evaluated. The mean nodal flexibility of each functional system, which is a measure that captures changes in the local properties of the network, was calculated. In addition, the intrasystem connections, intersystem connections and their ratio for each functional system were also calculated. We found increased flexibility of the visual and auditory systems in participants after musical training when compared with the controls. Moreover, the visual system showed increased intrasystem and intersystem connections, and the auditory system showed increased intersystem connections and a decreased ratio of the intrasystem and intersystem connections in the training group after musical training. Furthermore, regression analysis revealed a positive correlation between the increased intersystem connections of the visual system and practice time in the training group. Our results indicated that the dynamics of the functional brain network can be changed by musical training, which provided new insights into the brain plasticity and functional architecture of the brain network.


Brain plasticity Dynamic network Resting fMRI Modularity Musical training 



We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of musicians Xia Zhao and Jie Deng for their professional instructions on the musical training program and all volunteers for their continuing participation in this longitudinal study.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 81171403, 81471731, 81622025).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

429_2019_1867_MOESM1_ESM.docx (614 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 613 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological Science and Medical EngineeringBeihang UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Biomedical Engineering, Beihang UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning and IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain ResearchBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Center for Collaboration and Innovation in Brain and Learning SciencesBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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