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Re: physiological basis of tone deafness

That is a cultural term, not a scientific one.  Relevant literature is
murky, but my reading of it says that while some people have better
frequency resolution than others, what is called "tone deafness" probably
has little to do with how small your DL for frequency is.  It is often
a label used on young kids who don't seem to sing on key...and are told
to "stand in the back and move your mouth, but don't make any noise."
Also called frogs, and other such terms.  Many more boys than girls in
this group, and most of them seem to learn to sing on key eventually.  At
the other end of the continuum are those with "perfect pitch," and their
frequency discrimination isn't qualitatively different from that of
regular folks either.  I know of no physiological correlates...though
someone is bound to find something to point to in a brain scan one of
these days, if they haven't already.

You might talk to Ed Burns...


On Tue, 5 Dec 1995, Judith Brown wrote:

> A student asked me today what's the physiolgical basis of being tone
> deaf.  Does anybody know a good reference(s)?  Or better still want to
> give me a quick run down on the state of knowledge?
> I assume 2A2IFC experiments have been done and wonder how far apart
> the freqs have to be for subjects to be considered tone deaf.
> thanks,
> Judy