Moving to the Beat and Singing are Linked in Humans
The ability to carry a tune, natural for the majority, is underpinned by a complex functional system (i.e., the vocal sensorimotor loop, VSL). The VSL involves various components, including perceptual mechanisms, auditory-motor mapping, motor control, and memory. The malfunction of one of these components can bring about poor-pitch singing. So far, disturbed perception and deficient sensorimotor mapping have been treated as important causes of poor singing. Yet, memory has been paid relatively little attention. Here, we review results obtained from both occasional singers and individuals suffering from congenital amusia, who were asked to produce from memory or imitate a well-known melody under conditions with different memory loads. The findings point to memory as a relevant source of impairment in poor-pitch singing and to imitation as a useful aid for poor singers.