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Fractionating the Musical Mind: Insights From Congenital Amusia

Grant reference: RES-061-25-0155

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Conference paper/presentation details

Congenital amusia : is there a group with specific rhythm impairments?
Congenital amusia has been described as a pitch specific, musical processing deficit. It has been suggested that a deficit in which rhythm is affected but pitch is preserved does not exist. This study aimed to identify a group of people who suffered from this unusual problem, and look at the relationship between production and perception in these individuals. Participants were selected following online testing on pitch and rhythm tests taken from the Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Amusia. More than 20,000 people took this test online but only 11 were shown to be eligible for the study and show reliable selective deficits in rhythm perception. Following further testing in the lab 3 individuals scored below threshold on the rhythm subtest but above on pitch test composite scores. A tapping task was used to establish how a rhythm deficit might relate to rhythm production skills. This task involved spontaneous tapping, synchronization with auditory stimuli, and a continuation task. Changes were used in rhythm and pitch for increased complexity across trials and to establish patterns of deficits across the dysrhythmic group. 3 dysrhythmic subjects were identified and 38 controls were tested on both the MBEA and tapping task. No difference was found between groups in the spontaneous and continuation conditions. Large amounts of variance in the control data made it hard to compare the two groups effectively in the synchronization task. One observed difference was that dysrhythmics tapped at a higher hierarchical level from controls when attempting to synchronise with complex rhythms, suggesting a problem with extracting low level metre from these rhythms. While the small sample size is problematic and suggests the deficit is rare, the study did identify a small group of dysrhythmics and was able to draw some inferences about patterns of their deficit.
English

Primary contributor

Author Jacques Launay

Additional contributors

Co-author Lauren Stewart
Co-author Manon Grube
Co-author Guy Peryer

Additional details

Yes
Conference hosted by the University of New South Wales
03 December 2009
International conference on music communication science
Sydney, Australia
2nd
03 December 2009

Cite this outcome

Harvard

Launay, Jacques et al Congenital amusia : is there a group with specific rhythm impairments?. International conference on music communication science, 2nd, Sydney, Australia, 2009.

Vancouver

Launay Jacques et al. Congenital amusia : is there a group with specific rhythm impairments?. International conference on music communication science, 2nd, Sydney, Australia, 2009.