Musicians with "perfect pitch" may have the talent hard-wired into their brains, new research suggests.
Perfect pitch, also known as absolute pitch, is the rare ability to name any musical note without reference to any other tones. But most trained musicians have only "relative pitch," meaning that they need to hear a reference note first.
In the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from McGill University in Montreal report results of brain scans, which measure blood flow, taken while musicians listened to musical tones. Increased blood flow to a particular part of the brain meant that region was in use. Researchers compared 10 people who have perfect pitch with 10 who have relative pitch.
While listening to musical notes, the people with perfect pitch used a part of their brain called the left posterior DLF cortex. Those with relative pitch didn't. But people with relative pitch did use the same area when comparing one note to another. This suggests the brain region is used to name musical notes, and that it's activated spontaneously in people with perfect pitch.
-- Dallas Morning News