The Captivating Musical Disorder Called Amusia
Amusia is an intriguing word, but what does it mean? Amusia is a musical disorder that appears mainly as a defect in processing pitch but also encompasses musical memory and recognition. Amusia may be present from birth or may develop as the result of an injury. Can you imagine life without music? We know we can’t. Take a look at these interesting facts and stories about some people who can't hear the music.
Mrs. L was a young-looking sixty-seven-year-old woman. She was intelligent, but she didn’t know what “singing” meant. She also didn’t hear music like most of us do. In Oliver Saks’ book Musicophilia, Mrs. L described music to sound like pots and pans being thrown around the kitchen. This condition isn’t unique to Mrs. L. About 4% of the population is born with “amusia”. In some worse amusia, some people can’t even recognize musical information at all. A recent study looked at why beat deaf individuals are unable to keep a beat or tap along with music. We are not entirely certain about what’s going on inside the brains of those who suffer from amsuia; a number of regions are involved in processing music. We do know that the ability to move along to a beat isn’t unique to the human brain.
Other species with local learning abilities are able to keep a beat-think dolphins, seals, parrots and even cockatoos like Snowball, the dancing sensation.