It is comforting to know that I sing horribly for a reason. It is disappointing because I now know that I never be able to bring the place down on karaoke night."Tone deaf" people may lack a major nerve pathway linking brain regions for sound-perception and sound-production. Using a special imaging method that maps connections within the brain, researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found evidence that nearly all the tone-deaf people they studied were missing a nerve-fiber bundle known as the superior branch of the arcuate fasciculus in the right cerebral hemisphere of their brains.
"In the past, we knew that a connection disorder in the arcuate fasciculus led to language difficulties. Now that we know that tone-deafness affects similar branches of connectivity, we might start thinking about tone-deafness as a previously undiscovered connection disorder," says Psyche Loui, the researcher who was first author on the study.