Neural Plasticity in a French Horn Player with Bilateral Amelia

Daniel S. Scholz, Marcus Heldmann, Bahram Mohammadi, Thomas F. Münte, Eckart Altenmüller*

*Corresponding author for this work


Precise control of movement and timing play a key role in musical performance. This motor skill requires coordination across multiple joints, muscles, and limbs, which is acquired through extensive musical training from childhood on. Thus, making music can be a strong driver for neuroplasticity. We here present the rare case of a professional french horn player with a congenital bilateral amelia of the upper limbs. We were able to show a unique cerebral and cerebellar somatotopic representation of his toe and feet, that do not follow the characteristic patterns of contralateral cortical and ipsilateral cerebellar layout. Although being a professional horn player who trained his embouchure muscles, including tongue, pharyngeal, and facial muscle usage excessively, there were no obvious signs for an expanded somatosensory representation in this part of the classic homunculus. Compared to the literature and in contrast to control subjects, the musicians' foot movement-related activations occurred in cerebellar areas that are typically more related to hand than to foot activation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4570135
JournalNeural Plasticity
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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