There has been a surge of music-themed research in the field of auditory neuroscience in the past decade. A wealth of data have confirmed that musically trained individuals have structural, functional, and developmental differences in their brains relative to nonmusicians. Together, this work also has informed us about speech processing, capitalizing on the neural overlap between speech and music circuitry in the brain. Additionally, it has provided insights into experience-dependent plasticity and the biological mechanisms that drive it. However, much of this work has failed to reach the mainstream hearing scientist. This special issue of Hearing Research aims to bridge this divide.
It is worth pointing out that music is not only deeply linked to the auditory system but that it also engages almost every other neural system and cognitive function: motor, multisensory, memory, attention, and emotion are all part and parcel of music. Music thus essentially engages the totality of the nervous system, posing a challenge to understanding but also providing an opportunity to deepen our knowledge of the entire system. The pieces in this special issue provide excellent insights into this interactive system.