Musicians react faster and are better multisensory integrators

Simon P. Landry and Fran├žois Champoux

The results from numerous investigations suggest that musical training might enhance how senses interact. Despite repeated confirmation of anatomical and structural changes in visual, tactile, and auditory regions, significant changes have only been reported in the audiovisual domain and for the detection of audio-tactile incongruencies. In the present study, we aim at testing whether long-term musical training might also enhance other multisensory processes at a behavioural level. An audio-tactile reaction time task was administrated to a group of musicians and non-musicians. We found significantly faster reaction times with musicians for auditory, tactile, and audio-tactile stimulations. Statistical analyses between the combined uni- and multisensory reaction times revealed that musicians possess a statistical advantage when responding to multisensory stimuli compared to non-musicians. These results suggest for the first time that long-term musical training reduces simple non-musical auditory, tactile, and multisensory reaction times. Taken together with the previous results from other sensory modalities, these results strongly point towards musicians being better at integrating the inputs from various senses.

Source: Article Abstract