A new neuroimaging study conducted by researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University and the Universit de Montral at the International laboratory for Brain Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), has found that tone-deaf or amusic individuals have more grey matter in specific regions of the brain related to processing musical pitch, namely the right interior frontal gyrus and the right auditory cortex, as compared to those who are musically intact. The study, published in a recent issue of the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience, sheds light on the neurological basis for congenital amusia.
Music, at all times of the year, but especially during the holidays, produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without, according to Confucius. Unfortunately, for about 4% of the population, music is less pleasure and more cacophony.
Congenital amusia, or tone-deafness is a life-long disorder that impairs a persons ability to perceive or produce music, preventing otherwise normal functioning individuals from developing even the most basic of musical skills or deriving any enjoyment from music. As one tone-deaf individual describes it, listening to music is like listening to pots and pans being thrown on a kitchen floor.
Overall, behavioral evidence indicates that congenital amusia is due to a severe deficit in the processing of pitch information. However, until now, very little was known about the neural correlates of this disorder, says Dr. Krista Hyde, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Montreal Neurological Institute and lead-investigator for the study in collaboration with Drs. Robert Zatorre at the MNI and Isabelle Peretz at the Universit de Montral. Using sophisticated computerized brain imaging techniques/methods developed by Dr. Alan Evans at the MNI, we were able to quantify differences in brain structure between a tone-deaf group and a musically-intact group. Specifically, we found that tone-deaf i
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Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital