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Re: The climb of absolute pitch

Hi Diana and others,

Yes, if the aging effect concerns the pitch machine, it might be similar to the drug effect. There is at least one other medical drug that has the same effect. Based on a specific characteristic that the two drugs have in common we could suggest a possible neurochemical effect on the pitch extracting mechanism.

However, the big difference between aging and taking Tegretol is that musicians have great problems in adapting to the drug effect. This was how the case study started. The pianist was happy with the intended effect of the drug and wanted to go on taking it. But the interference of the pitch shift with her work at the piano was so annoying that she asked if the problem could be examined and possibly resolved. In the end it could not be resolved. As opposed to aging, the level of the chemical in the blood is not constant over a long time. This makes it impossible for some musicians to adapt fast enough to the pitch shifts.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Diana Deutsch" <ddeutsch@xxxxxxxx>
To: <AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 9:29 PM
Subject: Re: The climb of absolute pitch

Hi Leon et al,

It has indeed tended to go down for me, though not reliably so. The strange thing is that I still have this feeling of certainty when I name notes, even when I'm a semitone off. This makes me think that the effect is peripheral in origin, and that the central auditory system still interprets the information it receives correctly. There's a related phenomenon that occurs when people take carbamazepine (Tegretol). Those with absolute pitch hear a downward pitch shift that they generally describe as around a semitone. Its extent appears to increase with increasing frequency in an orderly fashion over a six octave range. Braun and Chaloupa (Hearing Research, 2005, 210, 85-92) were able to plot this in a concert pianist with absolute pitch who made judgments both under carbamazepine and under placebo.


Diana Deutsch

On Nov 30, 2012, at 1:25 AM, Leon van Noorden wrote:


So for the optimists it should go down.
I believe that Diana has found that in some cases indeed it goes down.
I my case it has gone up one step of the the scale. However, I am not a real pessimist.


On 30 Nov 2012, at 10:19, Brian Gygi wrote:

Maybe it's the world that has changed and not you - it got lower (i.e., darker, sadder)

Brian Gygi, Ph.D.

-----Original Message-----
From: Pierre Divenyi [mailto:pdivenyi@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 11:10 AM
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: The climb of absolute pitch


Several older persons who have had absolute pitch in their young years experience perceiving a pitch by at least a half-tone (minor second) higher than what it actually is ? a phenomenon that the French calls the "climb of the tuning fork" ("montee du diapason"). Since I am one of those unfortunate individuals, I have been wondering what its physiological explanation is. Can anyone on the list offer one?

-Pierre Divenyi