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Beat Deafness

April 28, 2011

Researchers have identified the first known case of beat deafness.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Beat deafness…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Music with a strong beat)

Many people complain that they’re tone deaf, unable to carry a tune. Researchers have now identified a similar disorder – beat deafness. Cognitive scientists Jessica Phillips-Silver and Isabelle Peretz of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research in Montreal have documented the first known case. They used motion capture and music videos to confirm that a young man named Mathieu is unable to synchronize his body movements to music or recognize when someone else is doing so. In contrast, Phillips-Silver says just about everyone feels the beat in music, even young babies.

JESSICA PHILLIPS-SILVER (International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research):

A lot of us are very self-conscious about our musical abilities, but actually when you really look at it at the most basic level, just finding the regular pulse, just being able to clap your hands, most people have it.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.