March 12, 2014
Genes Bring Music To Your Ears
Multiple regions in the human genome are reported to be linked to musical aptitude, according to a study published this week in Molecular Psychiatry. The function of the candidate genes implicated in the study ranges from inner-ear development to auditory neurocognitive processes, suggesting that musical aptitude is affected by a combination of genes involved in the auditory pathway. The research was funded by the Academy of Finland.
The perception of music starts with specialized hair cells in the inner ear, which transmit sounds as electronic signals through the auditory pathway to the auditory cortex, where sounds are primarily recognized. In addition to simple sensory perception, the processing of music has been shown to affect multiple other regions of the brain that play a role in emotion, learning and memory.
The researchers note that musical aptitude is a complex behavioral trait not fully captured by the sound perception tests used in this study, and that environmental factors, such as culture and music education, likely play an important role here. The findings provide a valuable background for molecular studies and research on the interplay of genes and the environment with respect to musical ability.
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