The relationship between pitch and space in congenital amusia

Victoria J Williamson, Gianna Cocchini, Lauren Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Congenital amusia manifests as a lifelong difficulty in making sense of musical sound. The extent to which this disorder is accompanied by deficits in visuo-spatial processing is an important question, bearing on the issue of whether pitch processing draws on supramodal spatial representations. The present study assessed different aspects of visuo-spatial processing with a range of tasks (Shepard-Metzler Mental Rotation, Corsi Blocks Task, Visual Patterns Test) in 14 amusics and matched controls. The absence of a group difference on any of these tasks fails to support a previous claim that the disorder is strongly related to deficits in spatial processing. However, a subgroup of amusics, with significantly elevated thresholds on a pitch direction discrimination task relative to the rest of the group, were slower, but equally accurate, at Mental Rotation. This finding is discussed in relation to the nature of supramodal representations of contour and strategies for dynamic mental transformation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain and Cognition
Pages (from-to)70-6
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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