Eckart Altenmüller How Does Making Music Change the Brain Depending on the Starting Age?

Eckart Altenmüller is the Head of the Department for Music-Physiology and Musician’s Medicine at the University for Theatre, Music and Media, in Hannover. In 2005, Altenmüller was elected President of the German Society of Music Physiology and Musician’s Medicine. Altenmüller has completed degrees in both medicine (awarded by the Eberhard Karls Universität University Tübingen, University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) and music (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg). His combined interest in these respective fields seeks to understand how music, and playing music, reflects on the development of brain structures.

Area of Research

Neurophysiology, Neuropsychology

Eckart Altenmüller. "How Many Music Centers Are in the Brain?" Annual New York Academy of Science 930 (2001): 273-280.  
Thomas F. Münte, Eckart Altenmüller and Lutz Jäncke. "The Musician’s Brain as a Model of Neuroplasticity." Nature Reviews Neuroscience 3 (2002): 473-478.  
Eckart Altenmüller and Gottfried Schlaug. "Apollo's Gift: New Aspects of Neurologic Music Therapy." Progress in Brain Research 217 (2015): 237-257.  

since 1994

Professor and Head

Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media (Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover) (more details)

Department of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine

1992-1994

Assistant Professor

University of Tübingen (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

Department of Neurology

1985-1992

Assistant Fellow

University of Tübingen (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

Department of Neurology

1983-1985

Research Assistant

Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)

Department of Clinical Neurophysiology

1985

Master of Music

University of Music, Freiburg

1983

MD (Dr. med. univ.)

Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)

Fellowships

Vice President of the German Society of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine (since 2011)

Elected President of the German Society of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine (2005)

Member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences (2005)

Otto Creutzfeldt Lecture (2003)

Member of the Faculty of the European Forum Alpbach (1999)

Richard Lederman Lecture, Aspen (1999)

Fellow of the "Deutsche Studienstiftung"

Prizes

Kornmüller-Award of the German Society for Clinical Electrophysiology for EEG-Research (1992)

Young Scientists Award of the German Physiological Society (1984)

© HMTMH

Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media (Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover)


The Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media Hannover (HMTMH) is one of germany’s most renowned institutions for professional training and academic study in the cultural and artistic field. Some 360 teachers, amongst them numerous internationally celebrated artists, educationalists and academics, teach about 1,500 students from all over the world. The balance between music, drama, education and academic research and the commitment to excellence both at the highest level of solo performance and also in the broader training of ensemble players and teachers are at the core of HMTMH’s understanding of its role. To this end, the University provides a broad but differentiated offering of courses and programs, currently consisting of 33 study programs supplemented by world-class master classes.

With, the department of old music, new music and chamber music, the department of gifted Junior music studies and the european centre for jewish music the university includes extraordinary and outstanding institutions. The departments of journalism and communication research, music and gender, music physiology and musicians’ medicine and music education research represent the scientific sector of the HMTMH. Due to these many artistic-scientifical projects interdisciplinary work is enabled in almost every sector of the university.

About 500 public concerts and performances a year make the HMTMH one of the biggest organizers of cultural events in the state of lower saxony. In order to provide long-term support for “hanover, region of culture” and “lower saxony, land of music”, lower saxony’s only music university stays in a permanent exchange with society and initiates a number of musical outreach activities. (Source: HMTMH)

Department

Department of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine

Prof. Dr. med. Eckart Altenmüller has been head of the department of music physiology and musicias’ medicine since 1994 and HMTMH-Vice President of Science since 2015. The institute is unique in Germany. There, the basics of music physiology and musicians' medicine are being taught, research on the physiological bases of music performance and perception is conducted, research on the causes of professional musicians' diseases are being investigated, prevention anddiagnostic and treatment of musician's dystonia are also addressed.

The institute was founded in 1974 as the "institute of experimental music education" under former university’s president Prof. Dr. Richard Jakoby. From 1974 to 1993 Prof. Dr. med. Christoph Wagner led the institute. In 1984 he initiated the renaming of the institute to "Institute of Music Physiology". With the recruitment of Prof. Dr. med. Eckart Altenmüller the institute was again renamed to "Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine" to underline the medical focus. (Source: HMTMH)

 

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Only in the last decades research found that experiences change the human brain. The research presented in this video deals with the question how making music reorganizes neural pathways in the brain. In a comparative study of brains of pianists who started playing early in life with those of pianists who started later and those of non-musicians ECKART ALTENMÜLLER found significant differences: Among others, the brain regions important for emotions, automation of movement, hand control, and for analyzing melodies are developed differently. Surprisingly, some of these regions are smaller in the brains of musicians, especially those who started in early childhood. This leads to the interpretation that if people start making music later they need larger neuronal networks for the same skill-level.

LT Video Publication DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10249

Structural Neuroplasticity in Expert Pianists Depends on the Age of Musical Training Onset

  • Lucía Vaquero, Karl Hartmann, Pablo Ripollés, Nuria Rojo, Joanna Sierpowska, Clément François, Estela Càmara, Floris Tijmen van Vugt, Bahram Mohammadi, Amir Samii, Thomas F. Münte, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells and Eckart Altenmüller
  • NeuroImage
  • Published in 2015

Chicago

Lucía Vaquero, Karl Hartmann, Pablo Ripollés, Nuria Rojo, Joanna Sierpowska, Clément François, Estela Càmara, Floris Tijmen van Vugt, Bahram Mohammadi, Amir Samii, Thomas F. Münte, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells and Eckart Altenmüller. "Structural Neuroplasticity in Expert Pianists Depends on the Age of Musical Training Onset." NeuroImage 126 (2015): 106-119.