[Paleopsych] NYT: The Senses: Do You Hear What I Hear? Well, Maybe Not

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Sun Sep 11 22:16:01 UTC 2005

The Senses: Do You Hear What I Hear? Well, Maybe Not


    People who are tone [3]deaf - not your run-of-the-mill bad shower
    singers but those who truly cannot hear or produce musical tones - are
    actually processing the sounds differently in their brains,
    researchers reported yesterday.

    The researchers, writing online in Annals of Neurology, said they
    found the problem in the right side of the brain. The study was led by
    Isabelle Peretz of the University of Montreal.

    The researchers, using an EEG to measure brain activity, said they
    could instantly detect an abnormal response when a tone-deaf person
    heard a note.

    Tone-deafness, formally known as amusia, may occur in as much of 4
    percent of the population, the study said. A person can be born tone
    deaf or develop the problem as a result of injury or illness.

    Amusia is related to speech and reading disorders like [4]dyslexia and
    dysphasia. A better understanding of it may help doctors devise
    treatments for people with the other problems, the researchers said.

    For the study, 8 tone-deaf adults and 10 others were connected to an
    EEG and asked to listen to a series of musical tones. Half the time,
    one of the notes was pitched up or down. The volunteers were asked to
    say when they heard a change.

    The study found that the brains of amusic volunteers did not respond
    to small changes in pitch that caused changes among the other

    When the pitch changes were bigger, the study found, the amusic brains

    The researchers said more study was needed to narrow down where in the
    brain the problem was taking place.



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