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Re: AW: absolute pitch & animals
The animals were trained
to an ultrasonic reference frequency (23 kHz) and learned in a
2-AFC-paradigm to categorize pure tones of varying frequencies to be
higher or lower than this reference. After the training period, the
reference was omitted and the animals classified the comparison tones
only based on the memorized reference. Their performance was
Depending on the
animals, the absolute pitch discrimination threshold was between
0.4 and 0.8 percent. This is slightly worse than human successive pitch
discrimination thresholds (about 0.2 0.6 percent) in the best hearing
range under relative pitch conditions. The experiment lasted for
about half a year and during that period the animals fully retained this
high discrimination performance.
Could humans with AP
achieve such fine discrimination
I don't know--interesting question. There are surely data out there
speaking to this. But note that in this example animals were trained to
ONE reference tone only. In order to demonstrate a phenomenon homologous
to AP in humans they would have to be able to respond to several dozen
reference tones with several dozen unique response categories.
In fact, musicians without AP can sometimes achieve what may be called
pseudo-AP in that they develop a long-term memory for a single reference
note (e.g., many orchestra musicians can reliably identify A 440 because
they've heard it so often). This may be similar to what the bats are able
Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D.
Montreal Neurological Institute
3801 University St.
Montreal, QC Canada H3A 2B4