1. Neuroscience
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Altered functional connectivity during speech perception in congenital amusia

  1. Kyle Jasmin  Is a corresponding author
  2. Frederic Dick
  3. Lauren Stewart
  4. Adam Taylor Tierney
  1. Birkbeck University of London, United Kingdom
  2. Goldsmiths University of London, United Kingdom
  3. Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e53539 doi: 10.7554/eLife.53539


Individuals with congenital amusia have a lifelong history of unreliable pitch processing. Accordingly, they downweight pitch cues during speech perception and instead rely on other dimensions such as duration. We investigated the neural basis for this strategy. During fMRI, individuals with amusia (N=15) and controls (N=15) read sentences where a comma indicated a grammatical phrase boundary. They then heard two sentences spoken that differed only in pitch and/or duration cues, and selected the best match for the written sentence. Prominent reductions in functional connectivity were detected in the amusia group, between left prefrontal language-related regions and right hemisphere pitch-related regions, which reflected the between-group differences in cue weights in the same groups of listeners. Connectivity differences between these regions were not present during a control task. Our results indicate that the reliability of perceptual dimensions is linked with functional connectivity between frontal and perceptual regions, and suggest a compensatory mechanism.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in the Birkbeck repository (https://researchdata.bbk.ac.uk/65/), as are the speech stimuli (Jasmin et al., 2020b; https://researchdata.bbk.ac.uk/37/). The speech task can be demoed at the following link: (Gorilla Open Materials; https://gorilla.sc/openmaterials/102786).

The following data sets were generated

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Author details

  1. Kyle Jasmin

    Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck University of London, London, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9723-8207
  2. Frederic Dick

    Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck University of London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2933-3912
  3. Lauren Stewart

    Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Adam Taylor Tierney

    Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Wellcome (109719/15/Z)

  • Adam Taylor Tierney

Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2017-151)

  • Kyle Jasmin

Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research

  • Kyle Jasmin

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: All participants gave informed consent and ethical approval was obtained from the UCL Research Ethics Committee (fMRI/2016/001) and the Birkbeck Department of Psychology Research Ethics Committee (161711).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Andrew J Oxenham, University of Minnesota, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: November 12, 2019
  2. Accepted: August 3, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 7, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 26, 2020 (version 2)


© 2020, Jasmin et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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