Cortical thickness in congenital amusia: when less is better than more.
Hyde KL., Lerch JP., Zatorre RJ., Griffiths TD., Evans AC., Peretz I.
Congenital amusia (or tone deafness) is a lifelong disorder characterized by impairments in the perception and production of music. A previous voxel-based morphometry (VBM) study revealed that amusic individuals had reduced white matter in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) relative to musically intact controls (Hyde et al., 2006). However, this VBM study also revealed associated increases in gray matter in the same right IFG region of amusics. The objective of the present study was to better understand this morphological brain anomaly by way of cortical thickness measures that provide a more specific measure of cortical morphology relative to VBM. We found that amusic subjects (n = 21) have thicker cortex in the right IFG and the right auditory cortex relative to musically intact controls (n = 26). These cortical thickness differences suggest the presence of cortical malformations in the amusic brain, such as abnormal neuronal migration, that may have compromised the normal development of a right frontotemporal pathway.