Born to be Musical: What We can Learn from Congenital Anomalies
Congenital anomalies provide a natural experiment—a rare chance to examine the biological basis of musicality by tracing causal links between genes, environment, brain, and behavior. Significant advances have been made on the neurobiology of musicality by studying individuals who were born with severe music-specific disorders. This condition is refered to as congenital amusia (or tone-deafness) and represents the low end of the spectrum. In contrast, at the other extreme of the spectrum, few scientific studies have sought to delineate the possible underlying neurobiology of musical prodigies. I will present the main and most recent insights that the study of congenital amusia has provided on the biological foundations of musicality and highlight how a similar approach of musical prodigies can reveal the neurobiological foundations of musical giftedness and talent, in general.