The Beat Goes Off: Scientists Pinpoint the Loss of Musical Perception

As many as two thirds of stroke victims find themselves suddenly unable to comprehend music. Beyond bad karaoke, these people fundamentally cannot differentiate pitches or rhythms. The medical term is acquired amusia, and recently scientists have aggregated data from of a large group of people with this condition to pinpoint the critical brain regions involved. A study published in August in The Journal of Neuroscience found that the brain is incredibly modular when it comes to the perception of music and speech. Whereas lesions giving rise to deficits in language perception—a condition called aphasia—reside in the brain’s left hemisphere, damage associated with amusia are restricted to the right. Aleksi Sihvonen, a neurologist at the University of Turku in Finland and lead author of the study, says he was shocked to…


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