Gene Region Linked to Perfect Pitch

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) have found evidence that a particular gene region on chromosome 8 is linked to the phenomenon of perfect pitch (also known as absolute pitch), at least in people of European ancestry. The finding, part of a larger examination of families of various ancestries (Europeans, Ashkenazi Jews, Indians, and East Asians) is said to be the first significant genetic evidence for a role of genes in perfect pitch. Perfect pitch is the rare ability to instantaneously recognize and label tones with their musical note names without using a reference pitch for comparison. It is likely, the researchers said, that multiple genes are involved in all cases of perfect pitch and that different genes could be associated with perfect pitch in those from different ethnic backgrounds. "Perfect pitch is a window into the way in which multiple genes and environmental factors influence cognitive or behavioral traits," said Dr. Jane Gitschier, the senior author of the study. The UCSF research team has learned over the last decade that both influences contribute to perfect pitch. "What's exciting now," Dr. Gitschier said, "is that we now have made the first foray into teasing out the genes that may be involved." This work was published online on July 2 in the American Journal of Human Genetics. [Press release] [AJHG abstract]
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