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Language and music have many similarities.

Notably, language and music are universal and specific to humans. Despite the complex abilities involved in both domains, linguistic and musical competence develop in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or formal instruction. However, a few individuals suffer from severe language acquisition impairments, which are not consequent to any hearing deficiency, mental retardation or lack of environmental stimulation e.g. !enton, "#$%& 'opnik and (rago, "##"). *uch a specific language impairment affects between + and $, of the population e.g. -rightet al., "##.). (onsidering the similarities between music and language, we can expect that a similar proportion of individuals from the general population experience music ‐ specific impairments. /ffected individuals would be born without the essential wiring elements for the development of a normally functioning system for music. 0his condition is variously termed tune‐deafness, tone‐ deafness, dysmelodia or dysmusia in the literature. However, we prefer to refer to this learning disability with the less restrictive label of 1congenital amusia2, because there may be as many different forms of developmental amusias as there are varieties of acquired amusias that result from accidental brain damage in adulthood. (ongenital amusia is a condition that has been known for more than a century, since the pioneering study published by 'rant‐/llen in "3.3. 'rant‐/llen reports the case of a +4‐year‐old man with a solid education and without neurological lesion, who suffers from a severe musical handicap. 0he man was unable to discriminate the pitch of two successive tones, failed to recogni5e familiar melodies and could not carry a tune. He exhibited an overall indifference towards music. 6et, the musical defect could not be explained by a lack of exposure to music since the man had received musical lessons during childhood 'rant‐/llen, "3.#). / century later, 'eshwind published a similar case 'eshwind, "#3%). 0he case was a man who came from a musically impaired family, despite their frequent exposure to recorded music at home. /s a child, this man attempted piano lessons, but his teacher soon reali5ed that he could not sing, nor discriminate between two pitches and could not keep time. 7nterestingly, this same sub8ect could speak three foreign languages fluently. 0hough indicative, these two studies are anecdotal since they are descriptive and not supported by systematic evaluations. 0wo large ‐scale studies were run to quantify the musical disorder. 7n "#%3, 9ry evaluated a ":44 sub8ect sample on tests requiring the sub8ects to compare two notes or two musical phrases in order to detect a change in pitch. 9rom these results, 9ry estimated that ;, of the !ritish population were amusical. 0his author further argued that musical memory problems as well as a difficulty in pitch discrimination might be the ma8or determinants of congenital amusia 9ry, "#%3). However, these claims were not supported by data analyses. <ore recently, =almus and 9ry ran another large‐scale study with $4% unselected adults who were required to detect anomalous pitches inserted in melodies =almus and 9ry, "#34). 9rom these results, %.:, of the !ritish adult population were estimated to be

amusical. However, this estimate is problematic. 9irst, the measure lacks sensitivity since >#4, of the participants were performing at ceiling. *econdly, a single measure of musical ability may have both poor validity and poor reliability. /bove all, such a psychometric definition of congenital amusia is unconvincing because the sole consideration of one tail of the normal distribution on a single test does not provide convincing evidence that congenital amusia is a real affliction and not a statistical anomaly. 7n summary, previous studies of congenital amusia provide valuable information regarding the nature of congenital amusia, while they do not offer a solid empirical basis. 0hus, the ma8or ob8ective of the present study is to document the probable existence of congenital amusia by the systematic evaluation of individuals who, despite normal exposure to music and a high level of general education, failed to develop basic musical skills. 0hese basic musical abilities rest on core mechanisms that are assumed to be shared by all members of a given society, musicians and non‐musicians alike, and that allow humans to appreciate and respond to the music of their culture ?eret5, :44"). /t the very least, these skills should encompass the ability to discriminate and recogni5e the music of the environment and, above all, to respond to it emotionally. <oreover, within limits, all humans should be able to carry a tune and to synchroni5e with the musical behaviour of others, by tapping along with the music and by dancing, for example. 0hese are the basic musical abilities that will be assessed experimentally in the present study. !ased on the published findings, we expect amusical participants to show a particular deficit in discriminating musical pitch variations and in recogni5ing familiar melodies. /s a consequence of these receptive disorders, we also expect amusical individuals to have poor singing abilities. 7n contrast, we have no particular predictions regarding their competence in monitoring rhythmic structure in music. 0herefore, amusical sub8ects were tested in various abilities, tapping mostly pitch ‐ related abilities but also rhythmic ones for comparison. 7n order to assess the domain specificity of the auditory disorder exhibited by congenital amusical sub8ects, their ability to recogni5e and memori5e music was compared with their ability to recogni5e and memori5e other familiar auditory tokens, such as spoken lyrics, speakers2 voices and animal cries, under identical testing conditions. ?revious *ectionNext *ection

Case description
0he most challenging part of the present study was to set the criteria that would allow classification of individuals as being congenitally amusical, and to find appropriate means to discover them. 7n what follows, we will describe i) the procedures and the inclusion criteria used to identify amusical cases& and ii) a summary of the behavioural assessment and self‐description of the amusical participants.

Recruitment of amusical subjects

university local papers and vocal recording machines). to increase the likelihood that the disorder is inborn& and iv) no previous neurological or psychiatric history to eliminate an obvious neuro ‐affective cause.& LiEgeois‐(hauvelet al. 0o exclude these false alarms as well as borderline cases. all requiring self‐declaration of a handicap for music. "3. Non‐ musicians are prone to complain about their musical deficiencies. by asking sub8ects to 8udge whether or not they had heard the musical selections in the previous subtests. the memory recognition subtest appears as an incidental memory test at the end of the evaluation. Assessment and description of the amusical group 7n order to verify the presence of a deficit in music perception and memory. However. 9inally.. 0he metric test requires a walt5Dmarch classification of each musical excerpt. to exclude general learning disabilities or retardation& ii) music lessons during childhood. 0hese are scale. :: exhibited a pattern of performance that unambiguously indicated the presence of a receptive musical disorder. we used a detailed questionnaire and focused our attention on individuals whose self‐description was as close as possible to the case reports of 'rant‐/llen and 'eshwind 'rant‐/llen. 0he most effective means consisted of making announcements in the media radio. Aut of these +. we selected +. "##3). interval and contour information on the melodic organi5ation dimension. to ensure exposure to music in a timely fashion& iii) a history of musical failure that goes back as far as they could remember. "##%.3& 'eshwind. only "" of them were willing to participate in further evaluations and were eligible because their past history fitted with the following criteriaB i) a high level of education. above all.@arious procedures were used. all self‐declared amusical sub8ects who met our set of stringent criteria were tested over a battery of tests designed to diagnose musical deficits in brain‐damaged patients of variable age and education level.. individuals and tested them in the laboratory on a musical screening battery see below). 0he conservative cut‐off score of three standard deviations below the mean obtained by control sub8ects was used to . all require a 1sameDdifferent2 classification task. "##. "##3& /yotteet al. 0he sixth subtest of the battery probed memory recognition abilities. potential sub8ects. in which the material is conventional and kept as constant as possible across conditions. Cach subtest measures the use of a musical characteristic that is known to contribute to music perception and memory. 0he musical battery has been used extensively in our laboratory and. in general. However. newspapers. "##4& ?eret5et al. preferably university level. has been shown to be effective in identifying adult non ‐ musicians with deficits in either the melodic or rhythmic dimension ?eret5. :444). /ll stimuli are computer‐generated and delivered with a piano sound for a full description see LiEgeois‐(hauvelet al. and rhythm and metre on the temporal organi5ation dimension.. Aut of more than "44 interviews.. "#3%). self‐declaration did not suffice. 0he melodic discrimination subtests as well as the rhythmic test. 0his battery contains six subtests.

<ore importantly. 0he amusical group was composed of nine women and two men. Ane drawback of this sample is that many elderly individuals suffer from hearing problems. ?erformance on the rhythm subtest was more variable. years. all amusical participants failed in at least two of the three subtests involving discrimination of pitch modifications see scale. with the exception of one who spoke Cnglish. but rather reflects the general characteristics of educated volunteers. who had no known music impairment and who were individually tested in our laboratory as neurologically intact controls for brain ‐damaged patients. However. the presence of a musical pitch discrimination deficit is clearly supported by the results. years and the mean level of education was ". 0he performance of the "" amusical sub8ects on the battery is expressed in percentages of correct responses and is presented for each individual in 0able ". the loss is expressed in d! HL for the left and right ear. None of the amusical participants scored below the cut ‐ off score for the 1metric2 task.G 9inally.indicate the presence of a deficit. (ontrol sub8ects were $" non ‐musicians age range "%D. / summary of the outcome is presented in 0able " along with the characteristics of each sub8ect.. as indicated by their impaired performance on the incidental memory recognition test.. and were 9rench speaking. correct. most hearing losses are confined to the high frequency range. it is marked by an asterisk. eight amusical participants also suffered from a severe difficulty in memory. probably because this task was relatively difficult for a few control sub8ects as well F-e are currently revising the metric subtest of the battery so that all individuals without musical impairments) achieve at least . respectively. range in years of education . View this table: • • In this window In a new window Table 1 *ub8ects2 characteristics and individual scores for the amusic group 0hus. a few amusical sub8ects managed to perform in the low but normal range. 0o assess the presence and importance of a hearing impairment. it is worth mentioning that no single subtest of the battery can be used to discriminate amusical sub8ects from controls since. two amusical participants /: and /"") had a . -hen there was an impairment. -hen the score is below the cut‐off score for a particular subtest.% years.D:4 years). all amusical sub8ects performed + *D under the mean of the $" controls in at least two out of the six subtests. contour and interval subtest). /s can be seen. However. each sub8ect underwent standard audiometric testing with a recently calibrated !eltone #D apparatus. 0heir mean age was . 0he higher proportion of women and of older people is probably not related to the condition of congenital amusia. in each subtest.. /s is often the case with ageing. with about half the sub8ects showing a deficit.

while four were raised in the Cnglish culture of North /merica. /musical and control participants were naive with regard to behavioural testing and were tested at the same pace. /lthough controls were not actively involved in music. as attested by their homogeneously high scores on standardi5ed batteries see 0able "). -hile all amusical participants affirmed having these difficulties as far back as they could remember. "##. none reported problems in the musical domain and indeed none exhibited a deficit in the screening musical battery see 0able "). / ma8ority seven) reported a difficulty in recogni5ing musical melodies without lyrics and in dancing eight people). 0hese reports rely on peer accounts because the amusical participants are unable to perceive their own impairments. <oreover. *ixteen control sub8ects were raised in the francophone culture of Huebec. However. Ane control sub8ect suffered from a hearing loss that spanned the whole frequency range. as did amusical participants. which was approved by the ethical committee of the 7nstitut universitaire de 'Eriatrie de <ontreal.more important loss. b). ?revious *ectionNext *ection General method Matched control subjects / group of :4 persons matched to each amusical sub8ect in gender. the hearing impairment and the maturity of the amusical participants have no apparent influence on their general intellectual and memory functioning. *ix amusical sub8ects also mentioned that one of their parents most often the mother) and certain siblings also had musical problems. as did /: see 0able "). and four controls had a hearing loss in the high frequency range. all amusical participants mentioned their inability to discern wrong notes in a musical passage and to sing in tune. However. and a hearing problem was suffered in the same proportion as the amusical participants.a. we found members in each family who were not affected. Material and procedures . 0hey scored above average in the -/7*‐777 scale -echsler 7ntelligence *cale 777) and the -echsler <emory *cale 777 -echsler. many sub8ects reali5ed the scope of their problem during music classes at school. thus discarding a familial negative attitude toward music as an explanatory factor. /ll controls were right ‐handed. age. / history of alcohol abuse. <ost seven) did not appreciate music and two sub8ects even found music unpleasant and tried to avoid it. amusical participants did not report any learning disability other than for music. 0he loss was not congenital but acquired as a result of regular exposure to loud noise during adulthood in one case /:) and due to successive ear infections in childhood for another /""). psychiatric disorder or other neurological illness was grounds for exclusion. /ccording to their self‐report. education and musical background served as matched control participants. /ll sub8ects2 informed consent was obtained to participate in this pro8ect.

who started with the musical screening battery described previously. <oreover.<ost tests used to study the amusical sub8ects and their matched controls have been designed previously for and validated with brain ‐damaged non‐ musicians who suffered from musical impairments as a result of brain damage. each lasting ∼: h. with as many pauses as requested. 0est results will be grouped in three different parts. whereas the proportion of congenital amusical sub8ects in the !ritish population was estimated with an anomalous pitch detection task and familiar melodies =almus and 9ry. :44"). Cach sub8ect was tested individually in our laboratory and provided hisIher 8udgements on answer sheets. 0herefore. Musical pitch perception Anomalous pitch detection task /ll amusical cases reported in the literature experience a marked deficit in discerning pitch differences. 0he 19rench2 version was constructed with +$ melodies . 0hus. we examined here the ability of our amusical group to detect a pitch anomaly in both familiar and unfamiliar melodies. 7n order to facilitate comparisons across studies and to test further the musical pitch defect characteri5ing congenital amusia. each devoted to the behavioural assessment of a particular question regarding the functioning of amusical sub8ects. "#34). 0he results were obtained with unfamiliar melodies in a 1sameDdifferent2 classification task.. 7n the following sections. a variant of the anomalous pitch detection task has been used recently in a twin study and shown to tap an ability that is genetically determined Draynaet al. 0he first set comprised only familiar melodies. *ub8ects were presented with two sets of melodies. 0he order of tests was identical for all sub8ects. 0he production tasks presented in ?art +) were administered at the end. 0his suggestion finds support in the present study since all "" amusical participants failed in at least two out of the three screening tests that probed their ability to discriminate melodies on the pitch dimension. *timuli were pre‐recorded and delivered from a D/0 *ony recorder to the sub8ect via two loudspeakers set to a volume that was comfortable for the sub8ect. a detailed description of the tests can be found in prior published papers. the results will be presented along with the corresponding test material and procedure. ?revious *ectionNext *ection Part 1. only the methodological aspects that are relevant to the understanding of the testing situation will be specified here. 0hey were then tested with the three types of memory recognition tests presented in ?art :) followed by the musical pitch perception tests presented in ?art "). 0he references will be provided below in the corresponding section& accordingly. it was deemed appropriate to test the present sample of amusical individuals with a similar test. 0he familiar melodies were different for the 9rench‐ and Cnglish‐speaking participants. Cach sub8ect was tested in at least three sessions. and the second set only unfamiliar ones.

0here is no overlap between the amusical and control distribution. / main effect of familiarity was also observed FF ". :44"). /s can be seen.44"G. with F ". "##. notes) that are well known to Huebec 9rench‐speakers ?eret5et al. avoiding the first and last note positions. Cach melody was presented once. 0here was no interaction with the group factor F K ").:3) J "$:.ranging in length from six to ". a highly significant group effect is obtained. with familiarity familiar versus unfamiliar melodies) taken as the within ‐ sub8ects factor.3#. P K 4. 0he unfamiliar set corresponded to the +4 comparison melodies used in the 1scale2 subtest of the musical battery. 0he mean percentages of hits minus false alarms were submitted to an /NA@/ analysis of variance). 0he 1Cnglish2 version consisted of +4 familiar melodies ranging in length from seven to "% notes) selected from a list of musical pieces that are well known to North /merican Cnglish‐speakers *teinkeet al.. ". half the melodies were modified by shifting the pitch of one note by one semitone higher or lower so that the note fell out of key while it preserved the original contour.44". amusical sub8ects were performing close to chance and well below their matched controls.:3) J +. 0he results are presented in 9ig. /s expected.. sub8ects were asked to 8udge whether the melody contained a 1wrong note2 or not.)& the test has been used in a prior study on acquired amusia ?eret5 and 'agnon. /fter each presentation.+%. 0he position of the modified note varied across melodies. due to the clear deficit exhibited by amusicals compared with controls. "###). P K 4. 0he responses were considered as hits when the sub8ects responded 1yes2 to a melody containing an anomalous pitch and as false alarms when responding 1yes2 to an intact melody. 7n each set. View larger version: • • In this page In a new window • Download as PowerPoint Slide .. and groups amusicals versus controls) as the between‐ sub8ects factor. reflecting the higher performance observed for the familiar over the unfamiliar melodies.

we used pleasantness 8udgements for a set of :% musical excerpts that were presented in two versions for a full description. see *chellenberg and 0rehub. -hen the ratio is simple.Fig. from an early age for a review. 9rom a practical perspective. 0hus. -hen the ratio is complex. as will be argued further below and in the general discussion. 7n the original version. Cach excerpt was presented in its consonant version and in its new dissonant version. with " referring to very unpleasant and "4 to very pleasant. "##%). as is apparently the case in congenital amusia. the excerpts that comprise a melody and an accompaniment are highly consonant and are taken from pre‐existing classical music e.g. the first bars of /lbinoni2s Adagio). 7f the latter ability is impaired. if each excerpt was sad corresponding to a rating of ") or happy corresponding to "4). 0he test of this particular prediction was the goal of the present investigation. the combination is considered consonant and pleasant for most listeners. *uch a pitch defect is the most likely origin of the musical disorder. Cach dot represents an individual score. sensitivity to dissonance is a fundamental experience of music that is tightly related to the ability to perceive fine‐grained pitch differences. "##$). 0his pleasant experience is determined mainly by the ratio between the constituent frequencies. 7n order to assess sensitivity to dissonance. 0he task was to 8udge. Sensitivit to dissonance /nother striking experience of musical pitch perception occurs when several tones sound together resulting in a harmonious blending effect. see ?eret5et al. amounting to %3 trials.+). :44"). 0he task of the sub8ect was to 8udge the pleasantness of each excerpt on a "4‐point scale. 7n this happyDsad distinction task.. 0he results are theoretically important because they converge with prior findings in identifying a deficiency in musical pitch perception in congenital amusia. the resulting combination is perceived as dissonant and unpleasant by the vast ma8ority of listeners. 0he dissonant version was created by shifting the pitch of all tones of the leading voice by one semitone either upward or downward. and hence may serve as a diagnostic tool in the future. Lentner and =agan. 0he results obtained with this anomalous pitch detection test are key for several reasons. these were presented in their consonant version in a separate control task. such as between two tones lying an octave apart. *ince half the excerpts evoke a sense of happiness they were all played in the ma8or mode with a median tempo of "+3) and the other half a sense of sadness they were played in the minor mode at a median tempo of . such as between two tones that lie a semitone apart.g. 1 <ean percentage of hits minus false alarms obtained for the amusical and control group in the anomalous pitch detection task. then one can predict that amusical individuals will be indifferent to the presence of dissonance. on a similar "4‐point scale. this test clearly distinguishes amusical sub8ects from normal individuals. the pitch intervals defining the mode) were . including infants e.

/s shown. /musical sub8ects are unable to perceive and interpret musical pitch differences normally. although their 8udgements are less extreme than those of their controls. /ltogether. 0hus.$#:& P K 4. with F ". .3.%.) J ":. right panel& t #) J #. they should be able to attribute the correct emotional label to the :% original excerpts.":+& P K 4.G.+.. amusical sub8ects appear less sensitive to dissonance than normal controls.$& P K 4. this is . the results obtained with emotional 8udgements are consistent with those obtained in non‐emotional tasks. who tend to 8udge all excerpts as weakly pleasant Fone amusic sub8ect /$) did not perform this testG. 0he analysis gives rise to a highly significant interaction between dissonance and group.44"G. whereas the amusical group shows a less marked preference Ft #) J :. 0o the extent that amusical sub8ects can derive the tempo of music..:+) J . P K 4.44"G. However.4:. View larger version: • • In this page In a new window • Download as PowerPoint Slide Fig...4. 6et. P K 4. 0he ratings were submitted to an /NA@/ considering dissonance consonant versus dissonant version) as the within‐sub8ects factor and group as the between ‐ sub8ects factor. 0he interaction supports the observation that control sub8ects find the consonant versions much more pleasant than the dissonant versions of the same excerpts Ft ". : left panel). 2 <ean ratings obtained in pleasantness 8udgements of dissonance left panel) and in happyDsad control 8udgements right panel). amusical sub8ects are able to recogni5e the affective tone of music to some extent.:.:%) J .not the only cue that the sub8ect could use to recogni5e the emotion& the tempo was also available. 0his distinction does not emerge in the ratings of the amusical sub8ects. with F ". control sub8ects 8udge the consonant versions as generally pleasant whereas they 8udge the dissonant versions as unpleasant. 0he mean pleasantness ratings given by the amusical and control sub8ects to the consonant and dissonant version of the same excerpts are presented in 9ig. 0hey are able to distinguish happy from sad music reliably Fsee 9ig.44". 0his difference is supported by a significant interaction between structure ma8orIfast excerpts versus minorIslow excerpts) and group.

7n the second set of sentences.pleaseN2 !oth sets were naturally spoken by a native female speaker and exist in 9rench and Cnglish& each set comprises ". for example. /gain. correct. but leave speech prosody unaffected. 0he sentences were first presented in isolation. "##3). depending on language. who scored #% and #3. 0hese tests are constructed by computer‐ editing two basic sets of sentences so that they differ from each other only by local pitch changes. we again exploited experimental tests that have been used previously with brain‐damaged amusical patients ?atelet al. He speaks 9rench) to indicate a statement. 0he same sets of sentences were also presented in pairs in a 1sameD different2 classification task. He speaks 9renchM) or a falling pitch e. 0herefore. respectively.. the pitch fall is of two to three semitones. and #4. respectively. amusical sub8ects performed slightly less well than the control sub8ects . or "$ pairs of sentences. /n equal proportion of trials contained no change. and sub8ects 8udged whether the sentence indicates a statement or a question for the first set of sentences differing by their final pitch rise. 0hese two tasks were relatively easy to complete for both amusical and control sub8ects.g.. a degraded pitch perception system may compromise music perception. or they indicated which word bore the stress for the second set of sentences. 7n contrast. when sub8ects were presented with the pair 1He speaks 9renchM2 followed by 1He speaks 9rench2. 7n the statements. 0he only cue available for the discrimination was the presence or absence of a pitch change on the final word in +: trials +4 in Cnglish) and in the location of the internal pitch change in +: additional trials +4 in Cnglish). *peech intonation contours. use variations in pitch that are larger than half an octave. !iscrimination of pitch variations "intonation# in speech 9ine‐grained discrimination of pitch is probably more relevant to music processing than to any other domain. the change affects the last word by marking a rise in pitch so as to indicate a question e. and 3. No feedback was provided to the sub8ect. respectively). respectively. in the internal pitch change condition.g. in the final pitch change condition. they were expected to respond 1different2. since they are able to infer the happy or sad tone of music in a rather consistent manner. 0he pitch change is in the order of six to seven semitones range three to "") for questions in 9rench and Cnglish. 0o assess this hypothesis regarding the domain specificity of the pitch defect experienced by amusical sub8ects. 9or example.not the result of poor auditory attention or of a deficient affective system in general. 7n the first set. the pitch difference of an average magnitude of eight semitones) affects an internal word of the sentence to mark emphatic stress such as in 1*7N' now pleaseN2 upper case letters indicate the stressed word) and 1*ing NA. which correspond to the semitone and whole tone. melodies use mostly small pitch intervals of the order of a "I":th or "I$th of an octave. to convey relevant information.

amusical sub8ects show evidence of a deficit compared with normal controls.:3) J ". P K 4.4++G.see left panel in 9ig. . 0his was due to the poorer performance of the amusical sub8ects in the non‐speech condition relative to normal controls FF ". 0he latter finding suggests that the pitch defect of amusical sub8ects is not limited to music but can extend to other auditory patterns varying on the pitch dimension. for spoken sentences left panel) and non ‐speech derivations right panel) as a function of the location of the pitch discrimination change. not the si5e of the pitch differences. -ith the non‐speech derivations of the sentences. -hen all linguistic information is removed from the sentences by a process of computer analysis and synthesis for details of the editing of these non‐speech analogues. +) but not significantly so FF ". 3 <ean percentage of hits minus false alarms and standard errors obtained. Ane can conclude from this set of tests that congenital amusia does not compromise interpretation and discrimination of speech intonation. as can be seen in the right panel of 9ig. 0his difference significantly affected the performance of amusical sub8ects. the only difference between the speech results left panel) and the non‐speech analogues right panel) lies in the acoustic waveform of the stimuli. this spared area of performance is contingent upon the presence of linguistic information. View larger version: • • In this page In a new window • Download as PowerPoint Slide Fig... even when these prosodic variations are limited to pitch changes as studied here. amusical sub8ects exhibit reduced performance. 6et.:3) J ":. 0hus. 0he interaction between all three factors reached significance FF ". as confirmed by an overall /NA@/ taking material speech versus non‐speech) and type of pitch change final versus internal pitch change) as the within‐sub8ects factors. Non‐parametric tests <annD-hitney U tests) yield similar results.44"G. and groups as the between ‐ sub8ects factor. amusical sub8ects do not seem to be impaired in processing speech intonation. in each group. -hen linguistic cues are removed from the signal.33& P K 4.%"G. However. . "##3).:3) J . a different picture emerges. see ?atelet al.4%.

6et. the sub8ects were requested to name the tune. ?eret5et al.: melodies without lyrics) from familiar folk songs ?eret5et al. "##. "##. human voices and environmental sounds. .g. spoken lyrics from the same pool of well ‐known songs. in particular.. "##$& /yotteet al..provided that amusical sub8ects cannot use speech cues to support discrimination. they were tested here with auditory meaningful stimuli pertaining to speech. 0his is why identification tasks are used regularly in neuropsychological settings. 7n the case of failure. particularly for non‐verbal material. care was taken to select lyrics in which content words could not cue the title e.. 7n doing so. they were presented with four written titles from which to choose& the foils were of the same genre e.& ?eret5. (are was taken to make cross‐domain comparisons in identical experimental conditions so as to minimi5e the contribution of other factors to the tasks. all titles were (hristmas songs). this explains why we administered this test first so as to assess the domain specificity of the difficulties experienced by congenital amusical sub8ects. %. environmental sounds. 7n addition. including animal cries.& *teinkeet al. following the literature as well as self ‐reports of amusical sub8ects. 0hree choices of names of the same sex and age were presented in the case of a naming failure. but blocked by domain. 1prOte‐moi ta plume pour Ecrire un mot2 for the song name 1/u clair de la lune2 or 1for nobody else gave me a thrill2 of the song name 17t had to be you2). 0he musical block consisted of . we relied heavily on prior work that succeeded in demonstrating the domain specificity of the musical impairments observed in brain‐damaged patients see. 0he lyrics block comprised :. they were presented with four written titles semantically related to the lyrics excerpt. "##%. *ub8ects were presented with auditory stimuli from four different domains. the disorder seems limited to the musical domain. ?revious *ectionNext *ection Part $.g. %aming and recognition of tunes& l rics& voices and environmental sounds 0he identification of a familiar auditory pattern by name is one of the most demanding tasks.. 7n the case of failure. /fter each presentation. 0he voice block involved ++ speech excerpts pronounced by famous public figures for Huebec residents. :444). 7n order to delineate the auditory domains in which amusical sub8ects seem to be at a disadvantage compared with normals. :44") and presented one at a time. 9inally. it is one of the rare tasks that allows the rapid assessment of the integrity of a processing system from the analysis of the acoustic input up to the name retrieval via appropriate contacts in memory. 6et. However. 0he stimuli were edited so as to remove any context word that could cue the speaker2s professional activities. Specificit of the musical disorder 0he tests using intonation patterns in speech suggest that amusical sub8ects may have difficulties in the processing of auditory patterns other than musical ones.

P K 4. all pictures would be means of transportation). for each domain.+ for . P K 4. lyrics.s. No difference was observed between groups for the other materials Fwith t :#) J 4. 0he mean percentages of correct naming scores and global scores. respectivelyG.& t :%) J 4. 7n case of a naming failure. Naming and recognition scores are represented separately." and ". for the naming and global scores.. on global and naming scores. n. Cach /NA@/ was computed with material tunes. %. all amusical sub8ects were able to retrieve the name of the song corresponding to the spoken lyrics.44". 0he outcome of the /NA@/s performed separately on the naming and global scores confirms these observations. 0he interaction was due to the fact that the amusical group only performed below the control group in the music identification test Ft :#) J 3.s. /n interaction was obtained between material and group FF +.& and t :+) J 4. were presented in a block.4"# and 4.4. 0his finding is important because it shows that amusical sub8ects have learned the songs although the musical part is problematic for them.#3: for human voices..:$ and $. which add the correct naming to the correct name choices.g. sub8ects could choose between four pictures of the same category e. 4 <ean percentage of correct responses and standard errors obtained for each group in the identification of melodies. View larger version: • • In this page In a new window • Download as PowerPoint Slide Fig. are presented in 9ig. human noises and indoor noises..$#) J ". -ith the exception of one outlier.%#% for lyrics.$4#. speakers2 voices and environmental sounds. amusical sub8ects were disproportionately impaired in music identification relative to the other domains and to control performance. 0he naming and global scores are highly similar.44"..:+.transportation noises. n. lyrics. respectivelyG.:$ and ":. voices and environmental sounds) as within ‐ sub8ects factor and group amusics and controls) as the between ‐sub8ects factor.:4+ and 4. !y both scoring procedures.

separately.. . P K 4. Separate recognition of tunes and l rics from songs /n important result in the previous identification tests was to find a clear dissociation in all but one amusical sub8ect between the recognition of lyrics. despite the presence of a very poor score obtained by the same outlier as previously. /n interaction between group and test was obtained FF ". /musical sub8ects did not perform significantly below normals in the lyric condition n. the amusical sub8ects appear to recogni5e lyrics. and the recognition of tunes. 0he mean percentages of hits minus false alarms obtained by each group in the two familiarity decision tests are presented in 9ig. "##3).s. Half the stimuli came from familiar songs and half were unfamiliar. for the naming and global scores. which was intact. which was impaired. 0he disorder appears to be music‐specific. the negative values indicate a greater number of false alarms than of hits). a familiarity decision task was devised for tunes and lyrics. 0he same results were obtained by way of <annD-hitney U tests. Atherwise. see ?eret5et al.$4+& P K 4.4. 0he responses were considered as hits when the sub8ects responded 1familiar2 to familiar excerpts and as false alarms when responding 1familiar2 to unfamiliar excerpts... a speaker2s voice and environmental sounds as easily as everybody else.:%) J "". 0he unfamiliar melodies were taken from the same repertoire of folk songs but are unknown to the sub8ects because they are no longer sung for details about stimuli selection. n.s. 0o this aim. respectivelyG. we used here a binary familiarity decision.environmental sounds.44"G.44+G. 0he amusical group was again only impaired in the melody condition relative to the control group Ft :%) J %. 0he task is simply to indicate whether or not each song part sounds familiar. 0o assess this particular dissociation further in a less demanding task. 0he results confirm the self‐report of amusical sub8ects in showing a selective problem in recogni5ing the melodic part of songs. although both components were learned together in songs. 0he non‐parametric statistical analyses <annD-hitney U test) yielded the same results. 0he data were submitted to an /NA@/ with material melodies versus lyrics) as the within‐sub8ects factors and groups as the between‐sub8ects factor Fone amusical sub8ect /$) did not perform this taskG. . Pequiring a feeling of knowing without identification may reveal residual recognition abilities.).

Cvaluation of these possibilities was the goal of the following experiment.. they might recogni5e it as music which they had heard in the laboratory. However. during which the :4 targets are mixed randomly with :4 lures& the sub8ects2 task is to tell for each stimulus whether or not they have heard it in the study set. "##. we used the same recognition memory test with three different materials as previously validated with brain‐damaged patients ?eret5. in this memory recognition test. 7ncidental encoding of music may not reflect the optimal performance of amusical sub8ects since they were not fully engaged in memori5ing the material. Memor recognition for tunes& l rics and environmental sounds Ane important question regarding the failure of amusical sub8ects to recogni5e familiar melodies is to what extent they are able to relearn these melodies in the laboratory. for each group. 5 <ean percentages of hits minus false alarms obtained. 7n one form of the test. without recogni5ing it as familiar. /lthough the amusical group has difficulties in recogni5ing music as familiar. 7n the presentation phase. in familiarity decisions for melodies and spoken lyrics of songs. -e also need to assess whether memori5ing familiar music is possible. Dots represent individual results. memori5ing melodies was incidental. 0he sub8ect2s task is to memori5e each of them. all stimuli consist of familiar tunes. they might remember it nonetheless. when presented with the music of 1La vie en rose2. /fter a short pause. :4 auditory targets are presented one after the other. *ub8ects performed the same task for two . 0hus. the test phase occurs. "##$& ?eret5et al. 0o test memory. No feedback is provided to the sub8ect. it remains possible that amusical sub8ects are able to memori5e melodies if they are explicitly told to do so.View larger version: • • In this page In a new window • Download as PowerPoint Slide Fig.). 9or example. 0he results obtained in the screening battery indicate an overall deficit in memori5ing novel music see 0able ").

0he three memory recognition tests were performed in different testing sessions. the amusical group scored significantly below the control group on the tune recognition test Ft :#) J . sub8ects with congenital amusia perform poorly in all tasks requiring recognition and memory of melodies.4.. P K 4.non‐musical materials. in the memory recognition test as a function of the material presented.. it is remarkably consistent across the three recognition tasks involving familiar melodies. finally. 7n .. /s shown in 9ig.). but variable& yet. similar to those used in the previous tests of identification. to the least demanding task requiring a familiarity decision. when provided with a single study episode i. 0he performance of the amusical sub8ects is low.##%& P K 4.3) J+4..%"& n...e. 0he selectivity of the impairment to the musical domain was supported by the presence of an interaction between material and group FF :. ?earson correlations with n J "4) are 4.44"G.G and environmental sounds Ft :#) J ".# between identification and memory recognition all P K 4.#4 between the scores obtained in identification global score) and familiarity& 4.3$. for each group. 0he musical deficit is apparent in all tasks. View larger version: • • In this page In a new window • Download as PowerPoint Slide Fig. Dots represent individual results. Cven re‐learning is unsuccessful. in the last condition referred to as the memory recognition condition)..44"G but not so on lyrics Ft :#) J 4. 0hese scores were submitted to an /NA@/ with material melodies. 0he responses were considered as hits when the sub8ects responded 1yes2 to studied stimuli. 0he mean percentages of hits minus false alarms obtained by each group in the three memory recognition tests are presented in 9ig.G. .s. $.s. one including lyrics and one involving environmental sounds. and as false alarms when responding 1yes2 to non ‐ studied stimuli. 0o conclude. between familiarity and memory recognition& and. from the most difficult situation that requires naming a well‐known tune.4:& n. 4. 6 <ean percentages of hits minus false alarms obtained. lyrics and environmental sounds) taken as the within‐sub8ects factor and group as the between‐sub8ects factor.

the amusical participants do not suffer from general difficulties in memory or attention in the auditory domain.contrast. was checked in a second condition. 0hey are usually detected on this basis. congenital amusical sub8ects are notoriously famous for singing out of tune. 0he singing production of only seven amusical participants could be recorded /+ and /$ could not participate and /# and /"" refused to sing in the repetition condition). their ability to repeat these same tunes. as documented previously. for example). 6et. after the experimenter. (learly. 19rQre Racques2 and 1@ive le vent2. ?revious *ectionNext *ection Part '. which are highly familiar children2s songs in 9rench ‐speaking cultures. /ll amusical and control tapping hands were filmed and were then copied in a random order onto another cassette. 7n the first condition. *ince amusical sub8ects show poor memory for those tunes. 0o assess this rather obvious prediction in a controlled manner. (ontrols were tested in equal number in the same conditions. the same amusical sub8ects show no particular difficulty in identifying familiar songs on the basis of their spoken lyrics. 0hey suffer from a highly selective memory deficit that seems limited to music. 0here were two cassettesB one containing singing from memory and the other sung repetition. and to do so as regularly as possible with their dominant hand so as to avoid complicated or syncopated rhythms). /ll amusical and control renditions were recorded on audiocassette and then mixed randomly. 0he ability to synchroni5e with music was assessed with the first +4 bars of pre‐recorded music. 7n the case of our sample. each amusical sub8ect as well as their controls) was encouraged to sing three songs into a microphone. under identical testing conditions. they were also assessed in their ability to tap out the beat of three different pieces of music while being videotaped. Musical production tasks Aur sample of amusical participants were selected because they report and show evidence of severe perceptual impairments for music. 0he recordings were selected in three different genres& one piece was classical Pavel2s !olero& duration " min :: s). or in recogni5ing and memori5ing non ‐musical auditory events such as common environmental sounds and speakers2 voices. was assessed in two conditions. 0o assess their potential to synchroni5e with music for dancing. 0he three tapes two audio‐ and one videotape) were 8udged by six 8udges four musicians and two non‐musicians) who were blind to the . 0he ability to carry the tune of 1/u clair de la lune2. another was disco 1*tayin2alive2 from the !ee 'ees& duration " min :3 s) and the third was folk 1reel des soucoupes volantes2 from the !ottine *ouriante& duration " min "" s). the production deficit can be expected to arise as a consequence of their poor perceptual and memory system. *ub8ects were required to tap in time with each piece of music. the lyrics were provided in print and the participant had to sing the corresponding tune from memory.

amusical renditions were 8udged to be rather poor compared with controls. respectively P K 4.. 0he ratings were averaged for the three songs in each singing condition and assessed for consistency by ?earson correlations. the 8udges were generally accurate in their classification of each production as being from an amusical or non ‐ amusical person.% amusical productions. sung repetition and in keeping time with the music. we asked two further musicians to 8udge blindly the accuracy of the rendition in terms of the pitch variations and the temporal variations. However. P K 4. . control productions were 8udged as such the difference is significant with S: J $+.#: for the pitch and time dimension.4"). 7n order to evaluate which musical aspect of the vocal production was most affected in amusical singing.3#. View larger version: • • In this page In a new window • Download as PowerPoint Slide Fig. respectively). /musical singing was 8udged to be . %: were correctly attributed to an amusical performer by at least four 8udges. Aut of the . 0he ratings were highly correlated.classification of the participants. 0he 8udges provided their ratings on different "4‐point scales with " meaning very poor and "4 very good). whereas none of the 3.$& P K 4. $+ and 34 for singing from memory. repetition and tapping. 0he agreement between 8udges was high. <oreover. where " meant 1very poor2 and "4 meant 1very good2. 0he results are presented in 9ig.4"). 0he 8udges evaluated each performance on a "4‐point scale. the classification is not perfect since one amusical individual /#) managed to produce an acceptable performance in each condition. 0hey were assessed by non‐parametric <annD-hitney U tests that confirm the presence of a clear distinction between amusical and control performance in each production condition U J 3:. since correlations between all pairs of 8udges were significant in each condition each r being >4. 0hey also had to decide if each recording was produced by an amusical sub8ect or not. by both scoring procedures. /cross conditions.. separately.#% and 4. with r J 4. 7 /verage ratings and standard errors obtained by each group in singing from memory. 0he ratings were averaged for the three songs produced by the same sub8ect in the same condition.44").

0his spared performance may be genuine.44"G. 0he difficulties were 8udged to affect mostly the accuracy of pitch variations. /s expected. 7n the present study. t #) J :. the problem was not limited to the pitch dimension since the rhythmic aspect of amusical sub8ects2 singing was not highly rated and. their tapping performance was generally not well synchroni5ed with the music..more impaired on the pitch dimension with a mean rating of +.4. amusical sub8ects were shown to interpret intonation in speech properly.:$. 0hese impairments cannot be explained by hearing losses. since they all have. 9inally.%& t 3) J $.: mean ratings. one amusical sub8ect was 8udged to perform normally in these tasks. 0he musical disorder appears as an accidental disturbance in an otherwise fully normal cognitive and affective system. -ith the exception of a single amusical sub8ect. who reported themselves to be severely handicapped in the musical domain despite their efforts to learn it. 0his high level of achievement in the auditory domain stands in sharp contrast to the rather poor level of .G. a similar trend also emerged for the control performance. However. largely confirms the presence of an underdeveloped system for processing music. this exceptional performance may simply reflect a lack of sensitivity of the crude measures of performance considered in the present study. the musical deficit cannot be ascribed to some general cognitive slowing since all amusical participants have reached a high level of education. to identify well‐known figures from their voice alone and to identify and recogni5e common environmental sounds. or grew up with. P K 4. /lternatively. 0he systematic evaluation of "" adults.# and 3. such as animal cries and ringing sounds. above all. they all identified and recogni5ed familiar songs when hearing the first lyrics. 0he deficit appears highly specific to the musical domain. /musical individuals are severely impaired in music discrimination and recognition tasks. with a better rendition of melodic than rhythmic aspects Fwith 3. amusical singing and tapping performance is impaired as compared with normal performance. normal audiometry. 0he musical disorder cannot be explained by a lack of exposure since all amusical participants had music lessons during childhood and were raised in families in which a few siblings are musically normal. respectively.# across conditions) than on the temporal dimension Fmean rating J $. and more surprisingly.:3#. However. /musical sub8ects retain the ability to process non‐musical material as well as their matched controls. 9inally. Ane remarkable characteristic of the amusical condition is the selectivity of the disorder. ?revious *ectionNext *ection General discussion 0his study suggests that congenital amusia is not a myth but a genuine learning disability for music. pointing to a non‐trivial dissociation between perception and performance. P K 4.

all amusical participants score below the normal range in the discrimination of musical stimuli that differ on the pitch dimension. 7t is important to note that the pitch defect of amusical individuals does not seem to compromise music exclusively. ?resently. An the basis of the present behavioural results and in line with the literature. while a ma8ority of them succeed in discriminating the same stimuli when these differ in temporal structure. we propose that one likely origin for congenital amusia is related to a deficiency in musical pitch recognition. relatively unaffected. 0his task is particularly sensitive to the presence of amusia since there was no overlap between the normal variations and the scores of the amusical sub8ects. Having established congenital amusia as a real pathological condition. 7n this endeavour. we presently are unable to support this claim because the search for these neural anomalies will require sophisticated brain imaging studies. specifying the functional origin of congenital amusia is essential because it may narrow down the possible neural loci to a si5eable set of circuitries that can be inspected further for the presence of an anomaly. 0herefore. 6et. and that its manifestation is congenital amusia. :44"). "#34). we can only offer functional explanations.functioning displayed by amusical individuals in recogni5ing and memori5ing musical patterns. 0he pitch ‐ related defect also extends to the detection of an anomalous pitch inserted in an otherwise conventional melody. for which amusical sub8ects show little sensitivity. it is tempting to propose that heritability of pitch recognition abilities can also be demonstrated by its deficiency. when all linguistic cues are removed. 0his difficulty in detecting pitch‐related changes extends to dissonance. as mentioned previously. 0he impairment extends to the discrimination of intonation patterns. such as speech intonation in which meaningful pitch variations are coarse. <ore importantly. we should now turn to plausible accounts of the observed deficiency. the same pitch‐tracking . the test has been shown to tap an ability that is genetically determined in the general population Draynaet al. the detection of an anomalous pitch in conventional melodies is a test that is very similar to that originally used by =almus and 9ry to discover congenital amusical sub8ects in the general !ritish population =almus and 9ry. 0he test is diagnostic in the sense that it provides a behavioural marker of congenital amusia. 7ndeed. 0his observation suggests that the pitch deficiency experienced by amusical individuals is not music‐specific but is music‐relevant. /lthough we construe congenital amusia as resulting from a slight disruption in the wiring of the auditory cortex. 0he disorder appears to be music ‐specific. 7nterestingly. /ccordingly. fine‐grained discrimination of pitch is probably more relevant to music than to any other domain. derived from the present behavioural studies.. <usic is probably the only domain in which fine ‐grained pitch discrimination is required for its appreciation. 7n effect. a degraded pitch perception system may compromise music perception but leave other domains. including speech intonation.

0aken together. where we are studying single amusical cases in detail. 0he current evidence is largely consistent with the notion that pitch is essential to music. *imilarly. /lthough there have been limited explorations into developmental musical disorders in the past. a drastic pitch perception defect has been documented with psychophysical methods in one amusical participant /"& ?eret5 et al. 0here are several possible explanations for the presence of this myriad of musical deficits. 0he validity of this prediction currently is under closer examination in our laboratory. i. 0he broader the context in which learning disabilities are viewed. but for which we do not yet have empirical support. 9rom an educational perspective. knowledge of every aspect of congenital amusia should enrich the current view of other forms of learning disabilities such as dysphasia and dyslexia. :44:).e. /t the very least. <ore specifically. is that the ensemble of musical deficits are cascade effects of a faulty pitch processing system. /s mentioned above. and most have difficulties in keeping time to a musical beat. /ll these tasks require an accurate representation of musical time. not solely musical pitch. but not timing changes. a deficit in monitoring pitch changes. However. the research enterprise constitutes a rich study avenue. the more likely we are to understand their causes.. :44"). continued effort in understanding the causes of congenital amusia should shed light on the question as to whether or not music processing corresponds to a genuine speciali5ation of the brain. the fine‐grained pitch discrimination disorder is not the only impaired musical ability in congenital amusia. in speech derivations has been studied further and isolated in another case /$& Hydeet al. fine ‐ grained pitch perception might be an essential component around which the musical system develops in a normal brain. . 0he explanation that we presently favour. some are even impaired in discriminating melodies by their rhythm. amusical sub8ects have memory problems for music. the neuropsychological evaluation of self ‐declared amusical adults has provided a framework for the diagnosis of congenital amusia and has served to delineate the nature and specificity of the disorder.mechanism may subserve both domains.