Musical Skills Test

by F.

A med student at UMass has an interesting musical test here. Quite fun. Takes six minutes. Here’s the background:

While working at the music and neuroimaging lab at Beth Israel/Harvard Medical School in Boston, I developed a quick online way to screen for the tonedeafness. It actually turned out to be a pretty good test to check for overall pitch perception ability. The test is purposefully made very hard, so excellent musicians rarely score above 80% correct. Give it a try!

In our research, we were looking for neuro-anatomical correlates of tonedeafness (called “congenital amusia” in the scientific literature. We gave several dozen subjects a high-resolution MRI scan and used a statistical package to analyze the images. This technique, called VBM (voxel-based morphometry), has been used to study the changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer disease and many other neurological conditions. The test you are about to take was used as a screening test to roughly characterize patient’s pitch discrimination and musical memory abilities. Even though musical memory is strongly tested here, we have found that people who are tonedeaf tend to have normal musical memories.

My score was 83.3%. Over at Cognitive Daily, there’s some data on how readers of that blog fared. The mean score is pretty high.