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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Integr. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnint.2019.00062

Age-dependent enhancement of working memory maintenance but not working memory updating in musically trained children and adolescents

  • 1University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Other, Finland
  • 3Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 4CICERO Learning, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 5Turku PET Centre, Finland

In the current longitudinal study, we investigated the development of working memory in musically trained and nontrained children and adolescents, aged 9-20. We measured
working memory with the Digit Span (DS) forwards and backwards tests (N=106) and the
Trail-Making A and B (TMT-A and B) (N=104) tests three times, in 2011, 2013, and 2016.
We expected that musically trained participants would outperform peers with no musical
training. Indeed, we found that the younger musically trained participants in particular
outperformed their nontrained peers in the TMT-A, TMT-B and DS forwards tests. These
tests all primarily require active maintenance of a rule in memory or immediate recall. In
contrast, we found no group differences in the backwards test that requires manipulation and
updating of information in working memory. These results suggest that musical training is
more strongly associated with heightened working memory capacity and maintenance than
enhanced working memory updating, especially in late childhood and early adolescence.

Keywords: musical training, Longitudinal, working memory, Updating, Maintenance, development, trail-making test, Digit Span

Received: 17 Jun 2019; Accepted: 07 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Saarikivi, Huotilainen, Tervaniemi and Putkinen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Katri A. Saarikivi, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, katri.saarikivi@helsinki.fi