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Studies have shown subtle gray and white matter abnormalities in subjects with several developmental disorders including prosopagnosia, tone-deafness, and dyslexia. Correlational evidence suggests that tone-deafness and dyslexia tend to co-occur, suggesting a link between these two developmental disorders. However, it is not known whether tone-deafness can also be associated with other developmental disorders such as impaired face recognition or prosopagnosia. We addressed this question by assessing face perception abilities in a group of tone-deaf individuals and matched non-tone-deaf subjects. The Cambridge (CFMT) and the Warrington (WRMT) face memory tests were used to assess face processing in the combined group of 12, out of which six tested in the tone-deaf range. Only tone-deaf participants (two out of six) scored in the impaired range on the CFMT, one of whom was also impaired on the WRMT face memory test. Furthermore, the melodic composite score of all participants on the Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Amusia significantly correlated with their face recognition score on the CFMT. Our results suggest that in some cases tone-deafness might co-occur with face recognition impairments. It is implausible that both deficits are linked to a single cognitive dysfunction that spans different perceptual systems in different modalities. They are likely associated with a common pathogenetic mechanism of early development that leads to anomalies affecting the function of different brain systems or the connection between regions.



Publication Title

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience



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Permission to deposit through a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

Original publication: Paquette S, Li HC, Corrow SL, Buss SS, Barton JJS and Schlaug G (2018) Developmental Perceptual Impairments: Cases When Tone-Deafness and Prosopagnosia Co-occur. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 12:438. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00438