Public Release:  Speakers of a tone language show improved pitch perception

PLOS

People who speak Cantonese, a tonal language, demonstrate enhance musical pitch perception relative to Canadian French and English speakers, according to an Apr. 11 report in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by Patrick Wong, Li-Hai Tan, and Isabelle Peretz at the University of Montreal also investigated individuals with congenital amusia, a neurogenetic disorder that affects processing of pitch and rhythm in music. Interestingly, Cantonese speaking amusics still showed enhanced pitch perception relative to Canadian amusics. These results, the authors write, argue for a re-conceptualization of communicative disorders within appropriate cultural frameworks.

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Citation: Wong PCM, Ciocca V, Chan AHD, Ha LYY, Tan L-H, et al. (2012) Effects of Culture on Musical Pitch Perception. PLoS ONE 7(4): e33424. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033424

Financial Disclosure: This work is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0719666) and the National Institutes of Health (R01DC008333,R21DC007468, R03HD051827, and R21DC009652) awarded to PW, by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Institute of Health Research and a Canada Research Chair to IP, and by a grant from College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Nanyang TechnologicalUniversity (M58100050), awarded to AHDC. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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