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#20 - Neuroscientists subjected volunteers with amusia

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Complete Question Explanation

Must Be True. The correct answer choice is (B)

Here, the stimulus relates an experiment dealing with amusia, which is a disorder that causes
people to have “difficulty telling different melodies apart and remembering simple tunes.” The
neuroscientists conducting the experiment created shifts in pitch for volunteers with amusia, who
were unable to distinguish the tones. However, when presented with timed sequences of musical
tones, those same volunteers were able to track the sequences and to discern slight changes in timing.

The question stem identifies this as a Must Be True question. Based on the experiment’s two results,
our prephrase is that amusia is not necessarily related to timing, since people with amusia where able
to track the timed sequences of tones.

Answer choice (A): We do not know that the volunteers had a heightened sense of timing. And, there
is no indication that the timing ability that they possess resulted in any way from their amusia.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, because it is consistent with the information
in the stimulus. The volunteers with amusia were able to track the timed sequences of tones, so it
appears that amusia is not relating to an ability to discern timing.

Answer choice (C): The stimulus told us that the volunteers were able to track slight differences in
timing, not differences in pitch.

Answer choice (D): We cannot say that the ability to tell melodies apart depends on the discernment
of pitch alone, because the stimulus did not address what is required to tell melodies apart. All we
know is that people with amusia have difficulty telling melodies apart.

Answer choice (E): There is no indication that the volunteers’ ability to perceive timing was a
learned skill. Nor do we know whether the ability to discern pitch is an innate skill.
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But how do we know that amusia "results from" an inability to discern pitch? I think amusia might result in an inability to discern pitch.
Jonathan Evans
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Hi, Oakenshield,

It is certainly possible that "amusia" may "result in" an ability to discern pitch rather than "result from," although here we actually have some evidence that "amusia" may "result from" such a deficit since the subjects studied were unable to discern pitch but were able to discern timing, and "amusia" is a diagnosis of a condition. More important though is the fact that we are looking for which statement among the answer choices is most strongly supported by the stimulus. It is clear that the stimulus provides clear support for answer choice B and no significant support for any other answer choice. I hope this helps.
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Why is B the best answer choice? Saw only 50% of test takes got this correct.
David Boyle
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LustingFor!L wrote:Why is B the best answer choice? Saw only 50% of test takes got this correct.


The volunteers could track timing, but had problems with pitch.

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Hi, I am still having difficulty seeing how C is incorrect. The stimulus seems to use tone and pitch interchangeably. The volunteers weren't able to tell apart what the pitches were when they were played sequentially. But the volunteers could tell the difference when they were played in a melody because they could track the changes in timing. Even if they don't know what the pitches are, they know there are different pitches being played when heard in a melody based on their ability to differentiate pitch based on timing.

I initially chose C but the only reason that I could see C being eliminated is because the "People who" seems vague. Does this mean any person who can't tell a pitch apart can understand it based on timing? But we only studied those with amusia.

A) the heightened perception goes too far
D) pitch along and not at all on timing also seems to go too far
E) most likely innate is also not supported.

But A,C,D and E also fail to mention those with amusia specifically. They seem to be in general terms. Is this a valid reason to get rid of them?

Thank you!
Brook Miscoski
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hassan, I disliked A/C/D/E in part because they are broad statements that don't clarify that we are only trying to explain what is true of people with "amusia."

Another reason to eliminate C is that it contradicts the passage. The passage does not say that people with amusia can hear different pitches when there is a timed sequence. It says that people with amusia can perceive timing in a sequence, and that people with amusia can't hear the differences between tones.

Also, amusia doesn't amuse ya. Couldn't resist.