Music Perception
Intersecting Factors Lead to Absolute Pitch Acquisition That is Maintained in a “Fixed do” Environment
Sarah J. Wilson, Dean Lusher, Catherine L. Martin, Genevieve Rayner, Neil McLachlan


the skill of absolute pitch (ap) has been proposed as an ideal paradigm for investigating the complex relationships that exist between the genome and its expression at a cognitive and behavioral level (the phenotype). Yet despite this, we still have limited understanding of the early conditions that might be necessary or sufficient for development of this skill, and the influence of the current music environment has not been explored. To investigate these issues we undertook a detailed characterization of the early and current music environment of 160 musicians, and then identified factors predictive of varying extent of AP ability. The results demonstrate a similar contribution of past and present environmental influences, with a combination of factors (rather than any given factor) most salient in AP musicians. The novel finding for the role of the current environment suggests that auditory processing models emphasizing plasticity effects are relevant to AP ability.

  • Received August 23, 2010.
  • Accepted June 22, 2011.

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