Exploring the Impact of Congenital Visual Impairment on the Development of Absolute Pitch Using a New Online Assessment Tool: A Preliminary Study

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A high incidence of absolute pitch has been reported among individuals with visual impairment (VI), while recent behavioral and imaging evidence has indicated that enhanced abilities in the auditory domain result from the cross-modal takeover of the visually deafferented occipital areas. In this study, we tested the identification of musical pitch associated with verbal labels in children with congenital VI, together with a group of fully sighted children who acted as a comparison group, using a novel online assessment tool. The results indicated superior naming of musical pitch in the group with VI compared with the control group. Moreover, a bimodal distribution was found in the VI group in terms of the number of accurate pitch identifications. These preliminary findings suggest that enhanced pitch-naming ability in individuals with severe VI may be due to early differences in neural development brought about by loss of sight.

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