New Pill Could Give Adults Perfect Pitch

And make adult brains more receptive to knowledge in general

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 6, 2014 3:55 PM CST | Updated Jan 11, 2014 1:17 PM CST

(Newser) – Annoyed that your shower singing hasn't quite wowed the neighbors? One day you may be able to improve your pitch—and even acquire perfect pitch—with little more than a trip to the drugstore, NPR reports. That's because researchers are studying a "mood-stabilizing" drug that enables an adult brain to take in new information as it did during early childhood. The drug "restores the plasticity of the brain to a juvenile state," says Takao Hensch, co-author of a new study on the subject.

Hensch tested the enzyme-inhibitor on several young men who had received no musical training in childhood. They made efforts to train their ears, and after two weeks did far better on pitch tests than those who had taken a placebo, Raw Story reports. So what's the big deal? "There are no known reports of adults acquiring absolute pitch," Hensch says. In fact, the drug could rewire "otherwise firmly established pathways in the brain," according to the study. So you could learn new languages fairly easily, for example—but Hensch calls it "a process that one probably would not want to tamper with carelessly."

Ella Fitzgerald, who was known for her perfect pitch.
Ella Fitzgerald, who was known for her perfect pitch.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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