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Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 6;6:18861. doi: 10.1038/srep18861.

Impaired encoding of rapid pitch information underlies perception and memory deficits in congenital amusia.

Author information

Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Auditory Cognition and Psychoacoustics Team &Brain Dynamics and Cognition Team, CRNL, CNRS UMR5292, INSERM U1028, Lyon, F-69000, France.
Université Lyon 1, Lyon, F-69000, France.
International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7.
Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, QC Canada H3A 2B4.


Recent theories suggest that the basis of neurodevelopmental auditory disorders such as dyslexia or specific language impairment might be a low-level sensory dysfunction. In the present study we test this hypothesis in congenital amusia, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severe deficits in the processing of pitch-based material. We manipulated the temporal characteristics of auditory stimuli and investigated the influence of the time given to encode pitch information on participants' performance in discrimination and short-term memory. Our results show that amusics' performance in such tasks scales with the duration available to encode acoustic information. This suggests that in auditory neuro-developmental disorders, abnormalities in early steps of the auditory processing can underlie the high-level deficits (here musical disabilities). Observing that the slowing down of temporal dynamics improves amusics' pitch abilities allows considering this approach as a potential tool for remediation in developmental auditory disorders.

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