Congenital Amusia Interferes with the Ability to Synchronize with Music


Address for correspondence: Simone Dalla Bella, Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, 1885 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Fax: 614-292-5601;


Abstract: Eight adults with a music-specific learning disability (i.e., tone deafness, but we prefer the term “congenital amusia”) were asked to tap along with music (e.g., Ravel's Bolero) and with nonmusical isochronous sequences (i.e., noise bursts). The amusic persons' tapping performance was poorly synchronized with music compared to that of nine matched control participants. By contrast, synchronization with the noise bursts was normal, suggesting that amusic persons' timing difficulty is limited to music.