Beat Deafness

Can't dance to save your life? People may think you're just klutzy, but perhaps it's something a bit more. Maybe you're a bit beat deaf:

The Go-Go's had a 1982 hit record with "We Got the Beat," but a 23-year-old man named Mathieu never got their message. Researchers have identified Mathieu as the first documented case of beat deafness, a condition in which a person can't feel music's beat or move in time to it.

Mathieu flails in a time zone of his own when bouncing up and down to a melody, unlike people who don't dance particularly well but generally move in sync with a musical beat, according to a team led by psychologists Jessica Phillips-Silver and Isabelle Peretz, both of the University of Montreal. What's more, Mathieu usually fails to recognize when someone else dances out of sync to a tune, the researchers report in a paper that will appear in Neuropsychologia.

"We suspect that beat deafness is specific to music and is quite rare," Phillips-Silver says. She and her colleagues plan to investigate whether Mathieu takes an offbeat approach to nonmusical activities, such as conversational turn-taking and adjusting one's gait to that of someone else.


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So, ladies, please understand that when we idiots decline to dance with you, it's not because we don't want to. It's simply the better option. Reject a dance or humiliate ourselves. We are not party poopers. I'm not sure if I have beat deafness. But I am white. And that can't be helping.
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