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Investigating the neurobiology of music: brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulation in the hippocampus of young adult mice

Angelucci, Francescoa; Fiore, Marcoc; Ricci, Enzob; Padua, Lucaa; Sabino, Andreab; Tonali, Pietro Attilioa

doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e3282d28f50

It has been shown that music might be able to improve mood state in people affected by psychiatric disorders, ameliorate cognitive deficits in people with dementia and increase motor coordination in Parkinson patients. Robust experimental evidence explaining the central effects of music, however, is missing. This study was designed to investigate the effect of music on brain neurotrophin production and behavior in the mouse. We exposed young adult mice to music with a slow rhythm (6 h/day; mild sound pressure levels, between 50 and 60 db) for 21 consecutive days. At the end of the treatment, mice were tested for passive avoidance learning and then killed for analysis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in selected brain regions. We found that music-exposed mice showed increased BDNF, but not nerve growth factor in the hippocampus. Furthermore, we observed that music exposure significantly enhanced learning performance, as measured by the passive avoidance test. Our results demonstrate that exposure to music can modulate the activity of the hippocampus by influencing BDNF production. Our findings also suggest that music exposure might be of help in several central nervous system pathologies.

aFondazione Don C. Gnocchi

bInstitute of Neurology, Catholic University, Largo Gemelli

cInstitute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine, CNR-EBRI Via del Fosso di Fiorano, Rome, Italy

Correspondence to Dr Francesco Angelucci, PhD, Fondazione Don C. Gnocchi, Department of Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, Catholic University, Largo Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy


Received 13 February 2007 Accepted as revised 19 April 2007

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.