Perfect drug for perfect pitch? New study tests valproate

You’re only as young as you think you are. But what if you could re-train your brain to absorb information as easily as a child can?

That’s exactly what scientists testing the FDA-approved drug called valproate investigated in study of adults who had little or no musical training yet demonstrated some degree of absolute pitch, an ability to identify or produce the pitch of a musical sound without any reference point.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails can sing, but does he have perfect pitch?

(Credit: Bonnie Burton/CNET)

Absolute pitch, the scientists say, can only be acquired early in life.

Valproate is currently used to treat epileptic seizures, migraines, and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. But scientists wanted to see if the drug had other neurological benefits.

According to the study, titled “Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch” and published recently in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, an adult male brain was able to retain new information as easily as it did during childhood thanks to the mood-balancing drug.

The team of international researchers “learned to identify pitch significantly better… [Read more]

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