Brain Specialization for Music

New Evidence from Congenital Amusia


Address for correspondence: Isabelle Peretz, Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, C.P. 6128, succ. Centre-ville, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3J7, Canada. Voice: 514-343-5840; fax: 514-343-5787;


Abstract: Brain specialization for music refers to the possibility that the human brain is equipped with neural networks that are dedicated to the processing of music. Finding support for the existence of such music-specific networks suggests that music may have biological roots. Conversely, the discovery that music may have systematic associations with other cognitive domains or variable brain organization across individuals supports the view that music is a cultural artifact. Currently, the evidence favors the biological perspective. There are numerous behavioral indications that music-specific networks are isolable in the brain. These neuropsychological observations are briefly reviewed here with special emphasis on a new condition, that of congenital amusia (also commonly referred to as tone deafness).