Genes for music aptitude?

i-75fa6f7cebb4145668724f37f5a52b36-steve_icon_medium.jpgReally?! Come on...

Molecular and statistical genetic studies in 15 Finnish families have shown that there is a substantial genetic component in musical aptitude. Musical aptitude was determined using three tests: a test for auditory structuring ability (Karma Music test), and the Seashore pitch and time discrimination subtests. The study represents the first systematic molecular genetic study that aims in the identification of candidate genes associated with musical aptitude.

The identified regions contain genes affecting cell extension and migration during neural development. Interestingly, an overlapping region previously associated with genetic locus for dyslexia was found raising a question about common evolutionary background of music and language faculties. The results show that musical aptitude is likely to be regulated by several predisposing genes/variants.

"The identification of genes/genetic variants involved in mediating music perception and performance would offer new tools to understand the role of music in human brain function, human evolution and its relationship to language faculty", says the leader of the study, Dr. Irma Järvelä from the University of Helsinki.

So... what other cognitive abilities are also directly regulated by this same set of genes? Language? Math?.... What specific aptitudes in music are better - rhythm, melody, stage presence? Come on... I want more!

-via EurekAlert-

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Oh, how very cool! Must read the paper.

I come from a family of the tone-deaf. Two generations of nuns independently identified this problem in my family, actually. The first ones just told my uncle to stop singing, sometime in the 1930s. The second ones told me that they were certain it was "ok with God if I just mouthed the words" in the 1970s.

Thanks for the heads-up. This should be a fun topic at the next family wedding :)

Any of you actually read the paper??!?

What they appear to be claiming, in the actual paper, is that musical aptitude is correlated (at no higher rate than training) with a loci that has some important genes for cerebellar functioning and possibly an inner ear mechanosensitive channel. It's not genes "for musical aptitude", but genes that would have a side-effect of affecting musical aptitude.

But of course they stick on it musical aptitude to make it sound cool and the news blurb then pumps it up even more, and then readers over-interpret and suddenly we have genes for "musical aptitude". It's epiphenomena folks.

I have actually read the paper and it is free available on page of Journal of Medical Genetics. Please read it before judge. It is very interesting and scientifically based work!

By Radka Pourova (not verified) on 16 Jun 2008 #permalink