Musical Training Enhances Brain Connectivity Regardless of Innate Pitch Recognition Ability

Absolute pitch (AP), also known as “perfect pitch”, is defined as the ability to name or produce a note of a particular pitch in the absence of a reference note (Deutsch, 2013). It is a rare ability, with an estimated occurrence of 1 in 10,000 people, that requires the capacity to mentally classify sounds into memorable categories (Takeuchi & Hulse, 1993). By contrast, relative pitch is a skill shared by most musicians and requires a starting note as an anchor point whereby other intervals can be identified. Comparable to how the general population would be able to identify an object of a particular colour, this task is simple and immediate to the small percentage of the population who possess AP. The ability is deemed to neither be completely inherited nor teachable (Chin, 2003), and attempts to train adult musicians in AP have yielded largely unsuccessful results (Rakowski & Miyazaki, 2007). It is instead thought to rely upon musical exposure during a critical period of development (Russo, et al., 2003). How this very specific talent is reflected in brain networks is not well understood. Previous attempts to classify AP stereotyped connectivity have yielded highly heterogeneous findings with inconsistencies arising in the location and direction of brain connectivity, whether a deficit or excess is present in the former, latter, or both.