Is Perfect Pitch Genetic?10/23/12
TUESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Having perfect pitch may
have as much to do with your genes as with early and extensive
musical training, according to a new study.
People with perfect pitch can sing a specific note without first
hearing a reference tone. The skill has long been associated with
beginning to learn music at a young age and continuing for many
The study included 27 English-speaking adults, including seven
with perfect pitch, who began extensive musical training at or
before the age of 6. The participants' memory skills were assessed
using a test that measures how many numbers a person can remember
and immediately recall in the correct order.
The test was conducted visually on a computer screen and again
in auditory form using headphones.
The people with perfect pitch did much better than the others on
the auditory test, while both groups had similar scores on the
visual test. This is important because previous research has shown
that genetics affect how well people do on the auditory test.
The researchers noted that people who speak English and other
non-tonal languages are less likely to develop perfect pitch than
those who speak tonal languages such as Mandarin.
These findings show "that perfect pitch is associated with an
unusually large memory span for speech sounds, which in turn could
facilitate the development of associations between pitches and
their spoken languages early in life," Diana Deutsch, professor of
psychology at the University of California, San Diego, said in an
American Institute of Physics news release.
The study was to be presented Tuesday at the Acoustical Society
of America meeting in Kansas City, Mo. Data and conclusions
presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The Wisconsin Medical Society has more about
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