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Faculty of Knowledge and Science, Amazon, Brazil
Child and Adolescent Heath Program, Faculty of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
Department of Teleaudiology and Screening, World Hearing Center, Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, Warsaw, Poland
Department of Heart Failure and Cardiac Rehabilitation, Medical University of Warsaw, Poland
Institute of Sensory Organs, Warsaw, Poland
Audiology and ENT Clinic, University of Ferrara – UNIFE, Ferrara, Italy
A - Research concept and design; B - Collection and/or assembly of data; C - Data analysis and interpretation; D - Writing the article; E - Critical revision of the article; F - Final approval of article;
Milaine Dominici Sanfins   

Milaine Dominici Sanfins, Faculty of Medical Science – State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). Rua Jacutinga, 220 – apto 12, Moema, São Paulo, Brazil. CEP: 04515-030, Telephone: +55 11 97060-3838, e-mail:
Publication date: 2020-04-07
J Hear Sci 2019;9(2):9–16
The aim of this review is to compare published FFR studies for groups of musicians and non-musicians. Musicians are taken to be those who have used their instrument at least twice a week for many years. The review considers sample size, age, gender, native language, preliminary and complementary assessments, equipment, stimuli, objective results, and conclusions of the studies. Medline/PubMed and Web of Science databases were accessed. Keywords were restricted to English Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms and included: auditory brainstem response, speech ABR, speech perception, frequency following response, musicians. The search identified 140 articles published between 2008 and 2015. After filtering the total number of papers according to inclusion and exclusion criteria, 11 studies remained. Analysis showed that individuals with musical experience, that is, play a musical instrument at least 2 to 3 hours per week, show an improved development of their FFR. Musical experience improves a broad range of abilities: detection, recognition, and discrimination of sound stimuli are processed more accurately and effectively in musicians. The improvement also relates to the encoding of speech, facilitating literacy. Assessment by FFR allows neural changes from musical training to be monitored.
Sanju HK, Kumar P. Enhanced auditory evoked potentials in musicians: A review of recent findings. Journal of Otology, 2016; 11(2): 63-72.
Sanfins M, Colella-Santos M. A review of the Clinical Applicability of Speech-Evoked Auditory Brainstem Responses. J Hear Sci, 2016; 6(1): 9-16.
Sanfins M, Skarzynski P, Colella-Santos MF. Speech-evoked brainstem response: In: Hatzopoulos, S. Advances in Clinical Audiology. IntechOpen, 2017: 823-778.
Nada NM, Kolkaila EA, Gabr TA, El-Mahallawi TH. Speech auditory brainstem response audiometry in adults with sensorineural hearing loss. Egyptian J Ear Nose Throat Allied Sci, 2016; 17(2): 87-94.
Sinha SK, Basavaraj V. Speech evoked auditory brainstem responses: a new tool to study brainstem encoding of speech sounds. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, 2010; 62(4): 395-9.
Skoe E, Kraus N. Auditory brain stem response to complex sounds: a tutorial. Ear Hear, 2010; 31(3): 302-24.
Parbery-Clark A, Anderson S, Hittner E, Kraus N. Musical experience offsets age-related delays in neural timing. Neurobiol Aging, 2012; 33(7): 1483.e1-4.
Parbery-Clark A, Strait DL, Hittner E, Kraus N. Musical training enhances neural processing of binaural sounds. J Neurosci, 2013; 33(42): 16741-7.
Strait DL, O’Connell S, Parbery-Clark A, Kraus N. Musicians’ enhanced neural differentiation of speech sounds arises early in life: developmental evidence from ages 3 to 30. Cereb Cortex, 2014; 24(9): 2512-21.
Weiss MW, Bidelman GM. Listening to the brainstem: Musicianship enhances intelligibility of subcortical representations for speech. J Neurosci, 2015; 35(4): 1687-91.
Sanfins M, Borges L, Ubiali T, Colella-Santos M. Speech-evoked auditory brainstem response in the differential diagnosis of scholastic difficulties. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol, 2017; 83(1): 112-6.
Musacchia G, Strait D, Kraus N. Relationships between behavior, brainstem and cortical encoding of seen and heard speech in musicians and non-musicians. Hear Res, 2008; 241(1-2): 34-42.
Kumar P, Sanju HK, Nikhil J. Temporal resolution and active auditory discrimination skill in vocal musicians. Int Arch Otorhinolaryngol, 2016; 20(4): 310-4.
Kraus N, Skoe E, Parbery-Clark A, Ashley R. Experience-induced malleability in neural encoding of pitch, timbre, and timing. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 2009; 1169: 543-57.
Rakszawski B, Wright R, Cadieux JH, Davidson LS, Brenner C. The effects of preprocessing strategies for pediatric cochlear implant recipients. J Am Acad Audiol, 2016; 27(2): 85-102.
Parbery-Clark A, Anderson S, Kraus N. Musicians change their tune: how hearing loss alters the neural code. Hear Res, 2013; 302: 121-31.
Parbery-Clark A, Anderson S, Hittner E, Kraus N. Musical experience strengthens the neural representation of sounds important for communication in middle-aged adults. Front Aging Neurosci, 2012; 4: 30.
Anderson S, Kraus N. Sensory–cognitive interaction in the neural encoding of speech in noise: a review. J Am Acad Audiol, 2010; 21(9): 575-85.
Parbery-Clark A, Tierney A, Strait DL, Kraus N. Musicians have fine-tuned neural distinction of speech syllables. Neurosci, 2012; 219: 111-9.
Parbery-Clark A, Tierney A, Strait DL, Kraus N. Musicians have fine-tuned neural distinction of speech syllables. Neuroscience. 2012;219:111-9.
Bidelman GM, Krishnan A, Gandour JT. Enhanced brainstem encoding predicts musicians’ perceptual advantages with pitch. Eur J Neurosci, 2011; 33(3): 530-8.
Parbery-Clark A, Skoe E, Kraus N. Musical experience limits the degradative effects of background noise on the neural processing of sound. J Neurosci, 2009; 29(45): 14100-7.
Bidelman G, Gandour J, Krishnan A. Musicians and tone-language speakers share enhanced brainstem encoding but not perceptual benefits for musical pitch. Brain Cognition, 2011; 77(1): 1-10.
Asaridou SS, McQueen JM. Speech and music shape the listening brain: evidence for shared domain-general mechanisms. Front Psychol, 2013; 4: 321.
Sanfins MD, Borges LR, Ubiali T, Donadon C, Hein TAD, Hatzopoulos S, et al. Speech-evoked brainstem response in normal adolescent and children speakers of Brazilian Portuguese. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol, 2016; 90: 12-9.
Russo N, Nicol T, Musacchia G, Kraus N. Brainstem responses to speech syllables. Clin Neurophysiol, 2004; 115: 2021-30.
Ahadi M, Pourbakht A, Jafari AH, Shirjian Z, Jafarpisheh AS. Gender disparity in subcortical encoding of binaurally presented speech stimuli: an auditory evoked potentials study. Auris Nasus Larynx, 2014; 41(3): 239-43.
Krizman J, Skoe E, Kraus N. Sex differences in auditory subcortical function. Clin Neurophysiol, 2012; 123(3): 590-7.
Musacchia G, Sams M, Skoe E, Kraus N. Musicians have enhanced subcortical auditory and audiovisual processing of speech and music. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2007; 104(40): 15894-8.
Lametti DR, Rochet-Capellan A, Neufeld E, Shiller DM, Ostry DJ. Plasticity in the human speech motor system drives changes in speech perception. J Neurosci, 2014; 34(31): 10339-46.
Bidelman GM, Alain C. Musical training orchestrates coordinated neuroplasticity in auditory brainstem and cortex to counteract age-related declines in categorical vowel perception. J Neurosci. 2015;35(3):1240-9.
Klein C, Liem F, Hänggi J, Elmer S, Jäncke L. The “silent” imprint of musical training. Hum Brain Mapp. 2016;37(2): 536-46.
Reybrouck M, Brattico E. Neuroplasticity beyond sounds: neural adaptations following long-term musical aesthetic experiences. Brain Sci, 2015; 5(1): 69-91.
Reybrouck M, Vuust P, Brattico E. Music and brain plasticity: how sounds trigger neurogenerative adaptations. In: Chaban V, editor. Neuroplasticity: Insights of Neural Reorganization. Croatia: IntechOpen; 2018.