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Harvard Researchers: Pill Can Give You the Perfect Pitch

Update Date: Jan 07, 2014 12:30 PM EST
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The ability to sing and hit pitches with accuracy is a gift that only some people have. In a new study, researchers from Harvard University reported that reaching the perfect pitch could no longer be unique to people. According to the researchers, the drug, Valproate could potentially help people learn how to achieve the perfect pitch.

For this study, the researchers gave adult mice Valproate, which is also known as valproic acid and is typically prescribed to stabilize mood. Valproate is an HDAC inhibitor, which gave adult mice the ability to learn new things that only few-weeks old baby mice could. After discovering that they could get the developed brain to learn new things once more, the researchers recruited 24 young male participants who had little to no musical background. The men were given Valproate for 15 days. While taking the drug, they had to watch videos that promoted the learning of a perfect pitch.

Researchers believe that people with a perfect pitch either learned it from exposure to certain stimuli when their brains had plasticity, which is typically between four and six-years-old, or they had it naturally. Perfect pitch is understood as the ability to identify specific notes and repeat them when heard. At the end of the study, the researchers found that all participants who were given the drug had improved scores on standard tests that measured perfect pitch. However, none of them actually achieved the perfect pitch.

Despite the findings that suggest that the drug could help people achieve a perfect pitch, Valproate was not designed for long-term use. Therefore, trials hoping to study the long-term effects of the drug on learning would not be allowed until these side effects are improved upon.

The study was published in the journal, Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience.

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