Recent Blog Articles
Postpartum anxiety is invisible, but common and treatable
Right-sizing opioid prescriptions after surgery
Ready for your routine medical checkup?
Nicotine addiction explained — and how medications can help
Is your vision impaired? Tips to cope
Misgendering: What it is and why it matters
Healthy brain, healthier heart?
Stories connect us
Wondering about a headline-grabbing drug? Read on
Respiratory virus cases tick upward: What parents should know
Tone deaf test
Do people cringe when you sing? You’ve got company. But researchers have found that only 1 in 20 people truly has amusia, the technical term for tone deafness. Tests have shown that some people with bad singing voices hear music just fine. Amusics are a smaller group with a perceptual problem: They can’t pick out differences in pitch or follow the simplest tunes, reports the September 2007 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.
Brain scans haven’t revealed major anatomical differences in amusics, but more sophisticated tests have uncovered some subtle variations. In a study comparing amusics to people with normal musical ability, researchers used a brain imaging and statistical technique to measure the density of the white matter (which consists of connecting nerve fibers) between the right frontal lobe, where higher thinking occurs, and the right temporal lobes, where basic processing of sound occurs. The white matter of the amusics was thinner, which suggests a weaker connection. Moreover, the worse the tone deafness, the thinner the white matter.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.