Background: This study investigated if intensive piano training may be associated with improved motor and somatosensory function. We systematically examined upper limb proprioception, which is known to play an essential role in skill movements, and motor function in young pianists. Method: Forty-four typically developing children who either regularly played piano for more than six years (N = 16) or had no experience playing musical instruments (N = 28) participated. Elbow and wrist joint proprioceptive acuity was assessed using a manipulandum. The wrist/elbow was passively flexed to a target with participants actively trying to match the just experienced target position. Motor function was assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC-2). Results: First, children in the pianist group exhibited significantly lower position sense bias (systematic error) at both the elbow and wrist when compared to controls. Position sense precision (random error) was not different between groups. Second, the piano group exhibited enhanced fine motor function as shown by higher manual dexterity MABC-2 scores. Performance in other motor domains (aiming and catching or balance) was not improved in young pianists. Third, a lower position sense bias was correlated with a higher level of manual dexterity. Conclusion: This study documents that children who regularly play the piano have superior upper limb position sense acuity. Specifically, smaller position sense bias, i.e., less systematic error. Superior upper position sense acuity in young pianists is associated with higher fine motor functions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology