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Monday, January 6, 2014

Would You Take A Perfect Pitch Drug?

Perfect Pitch image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Believe it or not, a new drug has been developed that helps you achieve perfect pitch. A new study published in Frontiers shows that the FDA-approved drug Valproate, which is normally used as an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer for epilepsy, anorexia, migraine, and post traumatic stress disorder, really has such a unique unexpected affect.

Researchers from the US, the UK, Canada and France gave the drug to adult men who were then able to identify pitches they couldn't previously, after first experimenting on mice. Now how they could tell if the mice had perfect pitch is beyond me, but the human tests seem pretty impressive.

In case you're wondering, perfect pitch (absolute pitch is the scientific term) is the ability to identify a musical pitch without a reference point, and only .01% of the general population has it. It's also been discovered that it's usually acquired by those who begin musical training by age 6, although it can be genetically transmitted as well.

Valproate is like most drugs in that it does have some unpleasant side effects unfortunately. Users can suffer from tiredness, tremor, sedation, gastrointestinal disturbances, and about 10% experience reversible hair loss.

So now the question - Would you take a drug that would give you perfect pitch, given the potential side effects?

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Anonymous said...

Wow! I am curious if a person can play music "better" under the influence of this drug, or learn at a quicker rate. Perhaps it would enhance a person's ability to mix music as well?
Very interesting...I have had discussions about something similar with friends. Would you take a musical "smart drug" (like a PED for an athlete), one that allowed you to be as talented as Mozart, but had some bad long term effects?
The future is going to be interesting...

Jef Knight said...

Perfect pitch is overrated.
Relative pitch is very learnable and useful.
Taking potential nervous system disruptors is a bad idea.
I suspect that if one had perfect pitch they'd suddenly want to auto-tune everything so it didn't sound like nails on a chalkboard to them. Perhaps.

senormedia said...

"Would you take a musical "smart drug" (like a PED for an athlete), one that allowed you to be as talented as Mozart, but had some bad long term effects?"

You mean like LSD? :)

Anonymous said...

I have been around plenty of LSD Mozart-like performances.

Anonymous said...

To clarify, The people who took the drug still had to train to learn perfect pitch, just as they trained the mice to get a treat if they pressed a lever only when they heard a certain pitch (I suppose that is how they trained the mice).

Matt said...

I don't know about drugs but there are other ways to obtain absolute pitch. This makes for quite an eye-opening read:

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