It’s never too late for perfect pitch. No, not the movie. Perfect pitch, or absolute pitch, is the ability to recognize and re-create any tone without reference. This phenomenon allows pitch-endowed people to hear pitches as distinctly as we see colors. Ludwig van Beethoven would famously attend concerts and transcribe entire symphonies, note-for-note, because of his perfect pitch abilities.
Yesterday, CNET.com reported that Valproate, a drug used to treat epileptic seizures, migraines, and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, is displaying interesting neurological side-effects. A clinical study suggested that adults taking Valproate were far more accurate at identifying pitches than any of the adults in the control group who were taking placebos. They explained that the drug “facilitated critical-period learning in the adult human brain”. They warn that it’s not an instant-genius pill and that people will still have to practice and train but will certainly have a leg-up on the pitch-deficient.
The implications here are astounding! While the study only refers to musical advantages, I would imagine that having the ability to regress into our childhood information-sponge state would benefit us all. The old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” may well become obsolete. I’ll take 100 bottles, please.