In the 1990s, a survey of music teachers published in The Psychologist reported that over 75% believed that a special talent was needed in order to learn music. However, in contrast to this “folk psychology” view, the past two decades of neuroscientific research have generated findings that starkly contradict such a belief that musical ability is confined to a small section of the population. For example, when modern imaging technologies have been used to investigate how the brains of newborn infants respond to music, it is found that neonates have a sense of timing and beats (essential for the recognition of sound sequences in speech and music) and can respond to whether a melody is “in-tune” (consonant) or “out of tune” (dissonant). Newborns are also ...

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