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Congenital Amusia

Congenital Amusia

We have all sat next to a person that just can not seem to hit the right note no matter how familiar the tune. For those musically inclined it can be quite a painful experience. But if you are one of these so called tone deaf people take heart as you are in good company. Ulysses S Grant, the 18th president of the Untied States, had a tin ear and found music profoundly irritating. Che Guevara couldn’t distinguish one piece of music from another. Most people can distinguish small differences in pitch half a semitone. But studies done at the University of Montreal found that people with congenital amusia (the scientific term for tone deaf) are unable to distinguish even a leap of an octave, equivalent to the first two notes of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Researchers are cautiously optimistic that given the plasticity of the brain children can learn to overcome to some degree this congenital defect. For you adult who are tone deaf I am sorry to say there is no hope.

Terry Pfau, DO, HMD

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