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Investigating the genetic relationship between motor traits and music training.

Investigating the genetic relationship between motor traits and music training.

Presenter Name:Henechowicz, Tara Lynn

School/Affiliation:University of Toronto, Vanderbilt University

Co-Authors:Henechowicz T.L.,Gordon, R.L., Tan, D., Thaut, M.H.


This research investigates the genetic relationship between motor traits and music training. Discerning the relationship between motor predispositions and music training will contribute to designing and personalizing music-based motor rehabilitation1. Cross-sectional studies of musicians compared to non-musicians show that musicians have enhanced sensorimotor skills, manual dexterity, and bimanual and spatial motor learning2– 7. For neuro-features, musicians show greater auditory-motor network connectivity and structural adaptations in the corpus callosum, internal capsule, and sensorimotor and subcortical areas8. This novel research leverages genomic data to examine the relationship between music training and genetic predispositions for motor behaviour traits (i.e., musculoskeletal strength, walking pace, and processing speed), clinical motor traits, and subcortical brain regions involved in motor control. Data include the BioVU cohort of genotyped musicians (N=1492) and controls (N=4893) identified from Vanderbilt’s electronic health records9. Polygenic scores for motor traits were calculated in the BioVU cohort using the weighted sum of alleles from previous large genome-wide association studies. Logistic regressions were applied to examine whether PGS for motor traits predict musician case status. Results indicate a significant relationship between PGS for musculoskeletal strength (p=0.0023), walking pace (p<0.0001), and processing speed (p=0.0136), and musician status. However, PGS for Parkinson’s disease status (p=0.79684) and the putamen volume (p=0.77983), were not predictive of musician status. In conclusion, findings provide evidence for a genetic association between music training and motor behaviour. Further investigations regarding PGS of cortical structure and connectivity may better reflect neuromotor processes.


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