The question of whether an individual is born with musical skills or develops it later on in life is being challenged in a recent study.
According to a study, publicized in the Journal of Acoustical Society of America, infants may be born with the ability to distinguish musical tones, with their exhibition of skills beginning by six months of age.
For their study, a research group at York University initiated trials on 30 infants at six months old. The infants were given a number of notes and tasked to discriminate between the major and minor notes.
Upon each form of note heard, the infants were given an image and tasked with signaling a particular location (left or right) to validate their musical comprehension.
“What we measured over time was how the infants learned the association between which tone they heard and where the picture is going to show up,” said Scott Adler, co-author of the study.
“If they can tell the difference in the tone, over time, when they hear the major notes for example, they’ll make an eye movement to the location for the picture even before the picture appears because they can predict this. This is what we are measuring.”
The results indicated that 33 percent of the infants whose anticipatory eye movements were examined, pinpointed the image’s location nearly perfectly, compared to the estimated remaining 67 percent of participants.
Overall, the study suggests that the ability to distinguish the major and minor notes in music may be established before learning to play; an individual might be born with the musical skill.