Humanities presents: Jasmin Pfeifer

In cooperation with the Faculty of Humanities (UvA)

02apr2015 13.15 - 13.50


Jasmin Pfeifer speaks about congenital amusia, a rare and intriguing affliction. People suffering from congenital amusia perceive music and language differently. It is not caused by insufficient exposure to music, a hearing deficiency or brain damage. So what is congenital amusia. What are the symptoms and how is it diagnosed?

What is congenital amusia? 

Congenital amusia is an innate perception disorder that has a negative influence on music and language perception. It is not caused by insufficient exposure to music, a hearing deficiency or brain damage and it is estimated that about 4% of the population are affected by it.

Congenital amusics face lifelong impairments in the musical domain. They can have problems with pitch discrimination, rhythm discrimination or both. Many amusics have difficulties with recognizing familiar melodies without lyrics or out of tune singing. Moreover, they often find it difficult to differentiate notes of different pitches, reproduce a tone or melody correctly and discriminating or reproducing a rhythmic pattern.

Some amusics are simply indifferent towards music, while in extreme cases, their symptoms can be so severe that music sounds like ‘banging’ to them. Congenial amusia also influences speech perception, as we also utilize pitch in language as, for example, in the use of intonation.

In this presentation Jasmin Pfeifer will explain what congenital amusia is, what the symptoms are and how it is diagnosed. The influence of amusia on music and speech perception will be explained as well. In addition, Pfeifer will discuss the most recent studies that are conducted here in Amsterdam.  

About the speaker

Jasmin Pfeifer is PhD researcher at the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication and at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Germany. She completed her Bachelors and Masters degree in general linguistics in Düsseldorf, focusing on phonetics, phonology, psycho- and neurolinguistics. Her research is about congenital amusia, a neuro-developmental disorder that negatively affects music and language perception.


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Gepubliceerd door  Spui25