Valproate perfect pitch.Can a Pill Give You Perfect Pitch?

 

Valproate perfect pitch

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Recommended for you.Valproic Acid for Perfect Pitch? Steady, Now… | pathways in music

 

that perfect pitch is an ability that is learned very early in life. In this new effort, the researchers studying Valproate—which is an HDAC inhibitor—found that. Nov 29,  · 07/ There is a study that was conducted in that investigated whether neuroplasticity could be aided by sodium valproate. It is a well-known fact amongst professional musicians that perfect pitch, or absolute pitch, cannot be learned as an adult. It is believed that the ability of the brain to learn this skill is limited to the first two years of life when the development of the . Jan 06,  · Before your next karaoke contest, you might want to visit a pharmacist: Researchers have found that a drug known as valproate, or valproic acid, might help people learn how to produce perfect ted Reading Time: 3 mins.

 

Valproate perfect pitch.Pharmaceutical Perfect Pitch |

Jan 07,  · Research suggests Valproate pill could give anyone perfect pitch by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress (A) The setup of the AP task. The purple characters and squares indicate names and corresponding keys Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins. Jan 08,  · Before your next karaoke contest, you might want to visit a pharmacist: Researchers have found that a drug known as valproate, or valproic acid, might help people learn how to produce perfect pitch. Besides the assistance valproate could give to “American Idol” contestants, the study is intriguing because it suggests the adult brain can learn better and faster through drugs that enhance its Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins. Feb 18,  · It’s a drug called valproate, and scientists are finding that it seems to help people develop perfect pitch. Originally a mood stabilizing drug, Harvard molecular biologist Takao Hensch told that “We found that it also restores the plasticity of the brain to a juvenile state.”Reviews: 2.
 
 
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The musical brain View all 17 Articles. Absolute pitch, the ability to identify or produce the pitch of a sound without a reference point, has a critical period, i. However, research has shown that histone-deacetylase inhibitors HDAC inhibitors enable adult mice to establish perceptual preferences that are otherwise impossible to acquire after youth.

In humans, we found that adult men who took valproate VPA a HDAC inhibitor learned to identify pitch significantly better than those taking placebo—evidence that VPA facilitated critical-period learning in the adult human brain. Importantly, this result was not due to a general change in cognitive function, but rather a specific effect on a sensory task associated with a critical-period.

Absolute pitch AP , the ability to identify or produce the pitch of a musical sound without any reference point, has long fascinated musicians, music scholars, psychologists, and neuroscientists Stumpf, ; Mull, ; Takeuchi and Hulse, ; Zatorre, ; Levitin and Rogers, Individuals who possess AP, constituting about 0. Their errors are usually not more than a semitone away from the target sound, as compared to 3 or more semitones for non-AP individuals.

AP possessors also make octave errors, i. Pitch class and pitch height identification are thus believed to be separate processes, and only the former constitutes a crucial test for AP Takeuchi and Hulse, ; Levitin and Rogers, , which AP possessors perform effortlessly and automatically.

Their reaction times are faster, at least when responding correctly, than those of non-possessors Miyazaki, , suggesting that the former have direct access to pitch names in memory, whereas the latter might rely on relative pitch to calculate pitch class.

In light of AP possessors’ highly accurate and automatic identification of pitch class, it has been suggested that in addition to perceptual mechanisms, AP involves the association of verbal labels for pitch classes in long-term memory Zatorre, ; Levitin and Rogers, The central role of these associations is further supported by functional imaging studies showing the involvement of the left posterior dorsolateral frontal cortex and the planum temporale, known to be responsible for learning conditional associations Zatorre et al.

In addition, AP possessors have a larger planum temporale Zatorre et al. A critical period is a fixed window of time, usually early in an organism’s lifespan, during which experience has lasting effects on the development of brain function and behavior. Specifically, behaviorally induced plasticity in the healthy brain, typically after the end of the relevant critical period, can lead to improvement beyond normal or average performance levels.

However, for many tasks, this requires targeted training—simple routine use is often insufficient. The factors known to influence the efficiency of such targeted training include the number of repetitions involved, the intensity of the training as well as the relevance or saliency of the stimuli or task trained. Importantly, such training-induced learning is quite specific to the trained task and to the underlying brain networks, although some transfer to other, related domains of knowledge or skills is sometimes possible.

At the cellular level, critical periods close when maturational processes and experiential events converge to cause neuoro-physiological and molecular changes that dampen or eliminate the potential for further change Hensch, ; Bavelier et al.

Research has shown that inhibition of HDAC can reopen critical-period neuroplasticity in adult mice to enable recovery from amblyopia Putignano et al. The age of onset of musical training has been shown to predict AP acquisition Deutsch et al. AP is most typically seen in individuals who started musical training before 6 years of age Levitin and Zatorre, ; Russo et al. Indeed, the distribution of the age of first formal musical training in a large number of individuals with AP can be modeled with a gamma function with a mode at 4—6 years Levitin and Zatorre, Training that begins after the age of 9 very rarely leads to AP, and there are no known cases of an adult successfully acquiring it Brady, ; Ward and Burns, ; Levitin and Rogers, The appropriate type of input, i.

For most individuals, this is not the case, as the two major sources of auditory input during early development, language, and the Western musical tradition mainly rely on relative pitch, explaining why not all musically trained individuals have AP. In the absence of AP cues during the critical period, the perceptual system is reorganized, shifting weight from absolute to relative pitch information Takeuchi and Hulse, ; Saffran and Griepentrog, ; Saffran, , although see Trehub, for a somewhat different view.

AP is thus particularly interesting from a neuro-scientific perspective, as it provides a model for understanding the interaction of genes and experience on the development of neural and cognitive function Zatorre, In the current study, we explored whether a reopening of the critical period was possible for AP learning in human adults.

We sought to establish whether the administration of valproate VPA , a commonly used anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer, known to inhibit HDAC and modulate the epigenome to promote neuroplasticity Phiel et al.

Notable improvement is achieved only when musically highly proficient participants are trained on a single note for extensive periods from several weeks to several months and tested on the recognition of this single target tone among several non-target ones Mull, ; Cuddy, It is possible, however, that at least in some such cases, the improvement is actually due to greater familiarity with the particular task, tone series or procedure, rather than to a genuine increase in AP ability Takeuchi and Hulse, Improvement is much more limited when musically untrained participants are tested Cuddy, , when participants are trained on a series of pitch classes rather than on just one pitch class Cuddy, , or when training is relatively short or less intense Vianello and Evans, A recent finding further shows that in addition to early musical training, the current musical environment also contributes to the maintenance of AP abilities, suggesting the presence of some residual plasticity for AP, at least in individuals in whom AP emerged during the early critical period Wilson et al.

The use of a single tone vs. In our current understanding, the identification of only one pitch class serving as an internal reference, sometimes referred to as quasi-AP or single tone AP, is qualitatively different from true AP, whereby the individual is able to identify a large number of pitch classes automatically and without an internal or external reference.

Albeit often similar in the percentage of correct identifications, the two types of abilities can be distinguished on the basis of reaction times, as AP possessors have faster reaction times than absolute tuning tone processors Miyazaki, ; Levitin and Rogers, It needs to be noted, however, that according to some authors e. The length and intensity of training also affects performance Brady, Fast improvement is observed for tones that are separated by large pitch distances, whereas more extended training is necessary for pitches that are closer together Hartman, Further, interference effects are sometimes observed when tone series are taught gradually, involving the introduction of new tones that fall in between already trained ones, decreasing pitch distance, and disrupting the subjective organization of the scale.

To assess whether taking VPA could reopen the opportunity for critical-period-like learning in adults, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, in which 24 young adult males received either placebo or VPA treatment in a cross-over design with two treatment arms.

Participants underwent 15 days of treatment during which they took capsules VPA or placebo each day. During the second week of treatment, participants observed training videos that taught participants to associate six pitch classes from the tone Western musical system e. We chose to use proper names instead of the actual note names to make the task equally novel and accessible for participants with and without any prior musical training, and to divert attention from the music theoretical aspect of the task.

We acknowledge that this may interfere with existing knowledge of actual musical note names in the participants who had sufficient musical training, but given that there were few such participants in our study, we considered that the advantages of using proper names outweighed the potential negative influence of such interference.

On day 15, participants were given a post-treatment assessment for AP in which they heard 18 synthesized piano tones and had to identify the proper name associated with the pitch class of each tone. After the first treatment arm, a washout period of 2 to 4 weeks elapsed. Eighteen out of the 24 original participants then entered the second treatment arm, which was similar to the first one, except that the drug VPA or placebo not received during the first arm was administered.

The strong hypothesis is that there might be improvement in the VPA condition in both arms of the design. However, since new training is introduced in the second treatment arm, successful learning in the first arm might carry over to and interfere with learning in the second arm. Effects are thus more likely in the first arm only.

This study is, therefore, intended as a proof-of-concept demonstration that critical-period-like AP learning may be at least partly restored by using a drug to remove the epigenetic brakes on neural plasticity. A software malfunction corrupted the data for one participant in the first treatment arm, leaving 11 who took VPA, and 12 who took placebo.

Participants gave informed, written consent following the protocol approved by the University of British Columbia clinical ethics review board and Health Canada. Exclusion criteria for the study included taking any medication with psychoactive effects, recreational drug use in the 6 months prior to participation, drug or alcohol abuse, being functionally bilingual or studying a second language at the university level, having perfect pitch or AP for musical tones, and being involved in an occupation requiring a high level of vigilance.

Only males were included in the study as a caution for potential health risks that VPA might have on pregnant women. Participants did not report having complete, partial or quasi AP, and have received no or little musical training mean 2. Importantly, those who had received any musical training all started after the age of 7 years, some as late as 17 years with a mean and a median of 12 years , well beyond the critical age of 4—6 years Levitin and Zatorre, It is, therefore, unlikely that there were AP possessors among our participants.

During a screening session, we confirmed each participant’s suitable health by means of a medical examination with a physician, which included a medical history. We also collected a blood sample to check for normal levels of hepatic enzymes, platelets, amylase, and ammonia.

These as well as participants’ psychological state and mood were also monitored throughout the entire duration of the study to screen for potential adverse effects.

The participants completed questionnaires at the screening session about demographics, music experience, language training, and handedness, as well as an assessment of IQ with the North American Adult Reading Test NAART. Table 1 summarizes these data. We asked participants to maintain normal patterns of consumption of caffeinated beverages over the course of the study. Of the twenty four participants, 18 completed the second treatment arm.

The six participants who only completed the first treatment arm either had to leave the study or had to be removed partway through for the following reasons: scheduling conflicts; travel; concern that side effects during the second treatment session might interfere with performance at a job interview; suffering a concussion due to an unrelated accident during the second treatment arm; loss of contact during the washout period with no explanation.

No participant reported leaving the study because of any actual side effects from the treatment. The training video taught participants to associate six pitch classes from the tone Western musical system e.

Each pitch class was presented in three consecutive octaves using synthesized piano tones. During the training, a name would appear on the screen while the subject heard examples of the corresponding pitch class. The training for the second treatment arm involved six pitch classes and six proper names that were not used in the first arm of the study. Thus, for the two treatment arms in total, we used all 12 pitch classes of the Western musical system, and presented them in three consecutive octaves, based on Deutsch et al.

The training videos included three blocks. Each block provided an opportunity for the participants to associate the six names with the corresponding pitch classes. During the first block, a subject saw one of the six names on the screen, and heard in succession the three examples of the pitch class corresponding to that name.

The examples, which were piano tones of the same pitch class in three consecutive octaves, occurred one after another from the lowest octave to the highest. The second block was identical to the first, except that the ordering for the octaves was scrambled, such that the piano tones corresponding to a name did not necessarily occur from lowest to highest.

In the third block, the stimuli occurred in a semi-random order, one at a time, and paired with the corresponding name. The semi-randomization was unique, and followed the same rules as in the task see below. The length of the training was based on the duration of the VPA regimen employed in previous studies using VPA with healthy participants Bell et al. Specifically, participants trained for 7 days from the 8th to the 14th day of the day-long regimen , i.

During test, the six proper names appeared in a horizontal row on the screen in the same order for every subject Figure 1A.

Participants heard one synthesized piano tone per trial, for a total of 18 trials, in a semi-randomized order, the only constraint being that successive tones were separated by an interval greater than one octave. The tones were ms in duration and interleaved by ms of silence, and were identical to the stimuli used during training. During the ms period following each tone, participants had to identify the proper name associated with the pitch class of the tone by pressing the keyboard key corresponding to the first letter of the associated name Figure 1A.

The maximum score for the task was 18, the minimum 0, and chance performance corresponded to a score of 3. Figure 1. A The setup of the AP task. The purple characters and squares indicate names and corresponding keys used in one treatment arm, the blue ones indicate those used in the other treatment arm.

Colors appear here for illustration purposes only. Only black characters were used in the actual experiment and response keys were not highlighted. B The cross-over design of the study with the two treatment arms, VPA regimen, training and test times. Our stimuli were synthesized piano tones as in Deutsch et al.

Unlike pure tones, stimuli generated by synthesized musical instruments contain cues other than frequency to pitch class identity, e. Intermediate and poor AP possessors are known to perform considerably worse with pure tones than with instrument-generated sounds Lockhead and Byrd, ; Bermudez and Zatorre, Since we only expected a moderate improvement in AP perception in our study, we decided to avoid using pure tones.