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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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