Genes explain why some people love music, says research

Research suggests that genes that affect hearing and cognitive function may play roles in one's musical aptitude.

hidden September 16, 2014 13:55:59 IST
Genes explain why some people love music, says research

London: Are you clueless about why your partner has an innate drive for music while you just cannot understand hip-hop or all that jazz? Blame it on your genes.

Research suggests that genes that affect hearing and cognitive function may play roles in one's musical aptitude - the ability to understand and perceive rhythm, pitch, timbre, tone durations and formal structure in music.

"The results show that genomic approaches can be applied to musical traits, that will, in effect, reveal new biological mechanisms affecting human evolution, brain function and civilisation," explained Irma Jarvela from the department of medical genetics at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The authors explained that extremes in musical aptitude (extreme capacity/no capacity) are rare within a population, with the majority of individuals having moderate aptitude.

"This is a typical feature of a complex trait attributable to several underlying genes and it is influenced to varying degrees by environmental factors, such as exposure to music or musical training," Jarvela added.

Genes explain why some people love music says research

Representational Image. AFP

Recent genomic approaches have shown that the genes responsible for inner ear development, auditory pathways and neuro-cognitive processes may underlay musical aptitude.

"Several genetic loci associated with musical aptitude have been identified in genome-wide linkage studies, that aim to find genetic variants that due to their proximity are inherited together with musical aptitude," the authors wrote.

Intriguingly, the genome-wide analyses performed in Finnish and Mongolian populations with different music phenotypes and different linkage mapping methods both identified a partly overlapping genetic region.

"The identified loci contained candidate genes that affect inner ear development and neuro-cognitive processes which are necessary traits for music perception," Jarvela noted. It suggests that musical aptitude is an innate ability. The study appeared in the journal BioEssays.

IANS

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