Speakers of a tone language show improved pitch perception

April 11, 2012

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 relative to Canadian amusics. These results, the authors write, argue for a re-conceptualization of communicative disorders within appropriate cultural frameworks.

Explore further: Mandarin language is music to the brain

More information: 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

Related Stories

Mandarin language is music to the brain

December 12, 2006

It’s been shown that the left side of the brain processes language and the right side processes music; but what about a language like Mandarin Chinese, which is musical in nature with wide tonal ranges"

Jingle bells not merry for tone-deaf individuals

December 19, 2007

A new neuroimaging study conducted by researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University and the Université de Montréal at the International laboratory for Brain Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), ...

Perfect Pitch: Language Wins Out Over Genetics

May 19, 2009

Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Sinatra and Hendrix -- these and many other of the world's most famous musicians have had "perfect" or "absolute" pitch. The ability, defined as recognizing the pitch of a musical note without having ...

For English learners, reading isn't always

April 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- An influential model for teaching reading and comprehension to English learners doesn’t work well for Cantonese-speaking children, according to new research from the University of California, Davis, ...

Recommended for you

The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

October 13, 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.