Study Shows Tuning Pianos Changes the Brain

Years of specialized listening changes the brains of longtime piano tuners, according to a recent study.(Photo: frickfrakk (Flickr))
Years of specialized listening changes the brains of longtime piano tuners, according to a recent study.(Photo: frickfrakk (Flickr))

Your piano tuner and your taxi driver might have something in common.

The results of a recent study by researchers at University College London and Newcastle University, published in Neuroscience and reported by the BBC show that the brains of longtime professional piano tuners reveal structural changes resulting from what University College London researcher Sundeep Teki called their “specialized form of listening.”

These structural changes to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and navigation, are similar to those found in the hippocampi of London taxi drivers, whose brains show changes that reflect accumulated savvy about getting around in London’s warren of byways.

Tom Griffiths, who led the study, says the study results suggest that the brain processes auditory input in terms of navigating “pitch space:”

Our study is consistent with a form of navigation in pitch space as opposed to the more accepted role in spatial navigation.

Read more: Tuning a Piano ‘Moulds the Mind’ (BBC)

Comments