Scientists Say: Amusia

This is the scientific term for tone-deafness


Many people who are amusic — or tone deaf — don’t enjoy music because they can’t hear the tune. 

miya-aki/Flickr/(CC BY 2.0)

Amusia (noun, “A-MUSE-ee-ah”)

Amusia is commonly known as tone-deafness. This is a brain disorder where people can’t tell one note from another. They can’t recognize a tune, either. Many people think they have amusia, but most do not. Only about one in 25 people — or four percent — are truly tone-deaf.  

In a sentence

People who are tone-deaf can’t hear a tune, but there is nothing wrong with their ears, and scientists still aren’t sure where the problem lies in the brain.

Follow Eureka! Lab on Twitter

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

amusia  Commonly called tone-deafness, this is a brain disorder where people are unable to tell one note from another, to recognize tunes or to remember music they have heard before.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

More Stories from Science News Explores on Brain