Impaired vowel discrimination in Mandarin-speaking congenital amusics

X. Huang, Caicai Zhang, F. Shi, N. Yan, L. Wang

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


This paper investigates if individuals with amusia show deficits in the identification and discrimination of Mandarin vowels, with the aim of exploring whether the deficiency of the amusics lies in the acoustic processing of frequency, or in pitch processing. The results showed that the amusics performed comparably as the controls in vowel identification. For discrimination, both groups exhibited better discrimination for between-category pairs than within-category pairs, indicating that the amusics are not impaired in the categorical perception of vowels. However, amusics exhibited poorer accuracy than the controls in vowel discrimination across the board, irrespective of between- or within-category vowel pairs. Moreover, the participants’ vowel discrimination accuracy is significantly correlated to their musical ability, as indexed by the Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Amusia (MBEA) scores. The results suggest that individuals with congenital amusia might be impaired in frequency processing in general, a deficiency broader than originally believed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventInternational Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages -
Duration: 1 Jan 2016 → …


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages
Period1/01/16 → …


  • Congenital amusia
  • Pitch
  • Frequency
  • Vowel
  • Categorical perception


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