Étudiante-chercheure étoile July 2013

Marion Cousineau

Postdoctoral fellow in Psychology
Université de Montréal

Award-winning publication: The basis of musical consonance as revealed by congenital amusia

Published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 2012


"As part of a series of studies carried out by researchers in the International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research (BRAMS), I observed a dissociation between the perceptions of dissonance and roughness in musical sounds among individuals suffering from congenital amusia, a lifelong disorder of musical perception and production. The data, obtained from methods in psychoacoustics (the study of sound sensations), shed light on the capacities of people suffering from this disorder. These observations also challenge the validity of conventional theories on dissonance perception in healthy subjects. This study is the first to rely on the deficits observed in people with congenital amusia to understand the roots of a phenomenon seen in the general population, and therefore paves the way for the use of the approach in other sound perception studies."

Marion Cousineau's work firstly elucidates the neurological bases of congenital amusia and could eventually lead to the development of rehabilitation techniques. While the impact of congenital amusia may be considered minor or mildly debilitating, the disorder hinders the social interactions of those affected (some 4% of the population). Secondly, the methods developed as part of the research may be used to explore the degree to which musical preferences are innate or acquired and yield further insight into music's prominent role in human societies around the world.