12 July, 2007

Tone Deaf?

Neurophilosophy has a brief article regarding an interesting study reported in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience about neurophysiology and tone deafness.

In the Nature article, the authors report the results of studies they completed to determine the relationship between tone deafness and brain processes. Amusics (the technical term for someone with tone deafness) are unable to differentiate between pitches in any given sequence. Oddly enough, this inability seems to be generally limited to actual music; amusics appear to have little or no difficulty discerning pitch differences in speech (being able to detect the rising pitch that accompanies a question, for example). The authors appear to have found significant correlation between an individuals inability to discern pitch differences and a corresponding inability to perform tasks relating to spatial processing (e.g., visualizing the rotation of an object), leading to the conclusions that the brain appears to process pitch differentiation in a manner similar to that in which it process spatial differentiation and that deficiency in the ability to process spatial differentiation will lead to amusia.

What a fascinating revelation! Unfortunately, the Nature article is available to subscribers only, but the post at Neurophilosophy has some additional detail and is well worth a read...

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