Neuroscientists subjected volunteers with amusia—difficulty telling different melodies apart and remembering simple t...

HAMEE on June 1 at 07:05PM

Can someone explain the differences among b,c,and d? How should I be focusing on when I read these “most strongly support” question stems?

Any explanation would be great. Thank you!

1 Reply

Victoria on June 1 at 10:09PM

Hi @HAMEE-YONG,

Question stems which ask you to select the answer choice that is most strongly supported by the passage are "Must Be True" questions. In other words, we are looking for the answer choice which must be true based on the information provided in the passage.

When answering "Must Be True" questions, you need to make sure that you have a complete understanding of what the passage is telling you, as well as the argument it is making or the facts that it is presenting. If you have this in-depth understanding prior to tackling the question, it should be relatively easy to determine which answer choice must be true based on the information that is provided in the passage.

Let's go through the passage together.

The passage tells us that neuroscientists asked volunteers with amusia to listen to shifts in pitch, like those which can be heard when someone plays one piano key and then another. The passage also tells us that amusia is the "difficulty telling different melodies apart and remembering simple tones." The volunteers with amusia were unable to tell the difference between the tones, but they were able to track timed sequences of notes and detect slight changes in timing.

From this passage, we know that neuroscientists asked volunteers with amusia - difficulty telling different melodies apart and remembering simple tunes - to listen to different pitches. The volunteers could not tell the difference between the pitches, but could track and detect changes in the timing of sequences of notes.

Now let's go through the answer choices.

A is incorrect because it requires us to assume that the reason the volunteers are able to detect the changes in timing is because they are compensating for a lack of ability to differentiate between pitches. There is no information presented in the passage to lead us to this conclusion and we cannot make the leap and assume that this 'must be true.' In addition to this, there is nothing in the passage that leads us to believe that the volunteers with amusia have a heightened perception of timing. We simply know that they are able to track timed sequences of musical notes and perceive slight changes in timing.

C is incorrect because the passage does not tell us that the volunteers are able to tell pitches apart in the context of a melody by relying on timing. The passage simply tells us that the volunteers were able to track timed sequences of notes and detect slight changes in timing. It does not tell us that they were also able to discern between pitches when the notes were played in a melody.

D is incorrect because there is no information presented in the passage that leads us to believe that the ability to tell melodies apart depends on the discernment of pitch alone and not at all on the perception of timing. In addition to this, we know from life experience that melodies require both pitch and timing in specific ways. Playing the same notes used in a particular melody but with different timing would change our perception of the melody and possibly negatively affect our ability to correctly identify it.

E is incorrect because there is no information presented in the passage which suggests that the volunteers learned to perceive timing. It is entirely possible that the perception of timing is also an innate skill, or that the discernment of pitch can be learned.

Finally, B is the correct answer. The passage tells us that the volunteers have amusia. They are able to track timed sequences of musical tones and perceive slight changes in timing, but are unable to detect shifts in pitch. This means that amusia does not stem from the inability to discern timing but, rather, the inability to discern pitch. This is directly restated by answer choice B, making it the correct answer.

Keep practicing these types of questions and you will find they get easier over time!

Hope this was helpful! Please let us know if you have any further questions.