Letters from the July 10, 2004, issue of Science News | Science News

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Letters to the Editor

Letters from the July 10, 2004, issue of Science News

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11:41am, July 6, 2004

Language of music

The study by Hyde and Peretz about people inept at all things musical ("Brain roots of music depreciation," SN: 5/8/04, p. 302: Brain roots of music depreciation) made me think of my spouse of 20 years. In addition to a lifetime of utter tone deafness, he also nearly didn't receive his graduate degree because he couldn't pass a required language course. He was examined by a university psychologist, who attributed his inability to learn a foreign language to a brain deficit and was eventually allowed to substitute a computer language for the foreign language. Logic, rather than nuances of sound, is involved in computer languages. The researchers' new results indicate that an inability to discern pitch, not timing, seems to afflict the amusical. Spoken languages are also about nuances in pitch. I can't help wondering whether the subjects of this study, like my spouse, had difficulty learning foreign languages.

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