Distributional learning of musical pitch despite tone-deafness in individuals with congenital amusia

Jiaqiang Zhu, Xiaoxiang Chen, Fei Chen, Caicai Zhang, Jing Shao, Seth Wiener

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Congenital amusia is an innate and lifelong deficit of music processing. This study investigated whether adult
listeners with amusia were still able to learn pitch-related musical chords based on stimulus frequency of statistical distribution, i.e., via distributional learning. Following a pretest-training-posttest design, 18 amusics and 19 typical, musically intact listeners were assigned to bimodal and unimodal conditions that differed in distribution of the stimuli.
Participants’ task was to discriminate chord minimal pairs, which were transposed to a novel microtonal scale. Accuracy rates for each test session were collected and compared between the two groups using generalized mixedeffects models. Results showed that amusics were less accurate than typical listeners at all comparisons, thus corroborating
previous findings. Importantly, amusics—like typical listeners—demonstrated perceptual gains from pretest to posttest in the bimodal condition (but not the unimodal condition). The findings reveal that amusics’ distributional learning of music remains largely preserved despite their deficient music processing. Implications of the results for statistical learning and intervention programs to mitigate amusia are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3117-3129
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Distributional learning of musical pitch despite tone-deafness in individuals with congenital amusia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this