I have a very important question for you, and the answer will determine whether or not you have a disability. Can you do that dance the Electric Slide? If the answer’s “no,” you may be beat-deaf. That’s when you can’t move your arms, legs, and body in sync to music. Researchers at the University of Montreal studied adults who felt they were bad dancers. They were evaluated on how well they bounced up and down to a Merengue beat. Researchers compared how well they kept tempo to the music versus a metronome, a device that ticks out a steady musical beat.
The result? They discovered beat-deafness, a brand new disability. Lead researcher Dr. Jessica Phillips-Silver says beat-deafness is a musical disability just like being tone-deaf, in which your brain can’t process pitch. So, what causes beat-deafness? Experts say there’s a blip in connectivity between the part of your brain that processes sound and the part that controls whether you respond to alerts, like, automatically stopping your car whenever you see a red light.
Just because you have two left feet doesn’t mean you’re automatically beat-deaf. The crux of the disorder is you can’t keep time with the beats. In fact, you can diagnose yourself by grabbing a few friends and your radio. Just play any song and clap along. If your friends all clap together, and you’re a little early or late, then odds are, you’re beat-deaf. Right now, there’s no cure for beat-deafness, but it might come in handy as the perfect excuse next time you’re at a wedding and someone wants you to do the Chicken Dance.