From the New Scientist:
WANNABE rock stars: keep practising. Yet more evidence has emerged that musicians are made through training, not born with the gift.
We already know there is something special about the way musicians' brains react when they hear music. Now new scans have revealed that specific regions of the brain dedicated to musical syntax and timbre become even more animated than usual in musicians when they hear recordings of their own type of instrument.
Elizabeth Margulis at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and her colleagues noticed the distinctions when playing music to flautists and violinists: only when the musicians heard their own instrument did these areas show this boost in activity.
The team reckons the musicians' intense training for specific instruments is responsible. If the brain's response to the music were decided by genetics, they argue, brain scans would be similar in all musicians listening to music, regardless of the instruments played.
Margulis speculates that other differences previously observed between musicians and non-musicians may also be due to training alone (Human Brain Mapping, DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20503).
"The suggestion has been that musicians have a different brain, but it doesn't seem they were born that way," she says.