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Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(3):479-88. Epub 2005 Jun 27.

Vocal amusia in a professional tango singer due to a right superior temporal cortex infarction.

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Department of Neurology, Division of Neuroscience, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan.


We describe the psychophysical features of vocal amusia in a professional tango singer caused by an infarction mainly involving the superior temporal cortex of the right hemisphere. The lesion also extended to the supramarginal gyrus, the posterior aspect of the postcentral gyrus and the posterior insula. She presented with impairment of musical perception that was especially pronounced in discriminating timbre and loudness but also in discriminating pitch, and a severely impaired ability to reproduce the pitch just presented. In contrast, language and motor disturbances were almost entirely absent. By comparing her pre- and post-stroke singing, we were able to show that her singing after the stroke lacked the fine control of the subtle stress and pitch changes that characterized her pre-stroke singing. Such impairment could not be explained by the impairment of pitch perception. The findings suggest that damage to the right temporoparietal cortex is enough to produce both perceptive and expressive deficits in music.

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