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Eur Neurol. 2009;61(5):269-77. doi: 10.1159/000206851. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Amusia and musical functioning.

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Department of Psychology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.


Music, as language, is a universal and specific trait to humans; it is a complex ability with characteristics that are unique compared to other cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, several issues are still open to debate, such as, for example, whether music is a faculty that is independent from the rest of the cognitive system, and whether musical skills are mediated by a single mechanism or by a combination of processes that are independent from one another. Moreover, the anatomical correlations of music have yet to be clarified. The goal of this review is to illustrate the current condition of the neuropsychology of music and to describe different approaches to the study of the musical functions. Hereby, we will describe the neuropsychological findings, suggesting that music is a special function carried out by different and dedicated processes that are probably subserved by different anatomical regions of the brain. Moreover, we will review the evidence obtained by working with brain-damaged patients suffering from music agnosia, a selective impairment in music recognition.

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