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Babies are born to dance, new research shows

Date:
March 16, 2010
Source:
University of York
Summary:
A study of infants finds they respond to the rhythm and tempo of music and find it more engaging than speech. The research suggest that babies may be born with a predisposition to move rhythmically in response to music.

Researchers have discovered that infants respond to the rhythm and tempo of music and find it more engaging than speech.
Credit: iStockphoto/Brian Palmer

Researchers have discovered that infants respond to the rhythm and tempo of music and find it more engaging than speech.

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The findings, based on the study of infants aged between five months and two years old, suggest that babies may be born with a predisposition to move rhythmically in response to music.

The research was conducted by Dr Marcel Zentner, from the University of York's Department of Psychology, and Dr Tuomas Eerola, from the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research at the University of Jyvaskyla.

Dr Zentner said: "Our research suggests that it is the beat rather than other features of the music, such as the melody, that produces the response in infants.

"We also found that the better the children were able to synchronize their movements with the music the more they smiled.

"It remains to be understood why humans have developed this particular predisposition. One possibility is that it was a target of natural selection for music or that it has evolved for some other function that just happens to be relevant for music processing."

Infants listened to a variety of audio stimuli including classical music, rhythmic beats and speech. Their spontaneous movements were recorded by video and 3D motion-capture technology and compared across the different stimuli.

Professional ballet dancers were also used to analyse the extent to which the babies matched their movement to the music.

The findings are published March 15 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition.

The research was part-funded by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marcel Zentner, Tuomas Eerola. Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1000121107

Cite This Page:

University of York. "Babies are born to dance, new research shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100315161925.htm>.
University of York. (2010, March 16). Babies are born to dance, new research shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100315161925.htm
University of York. "Babies are born to dance, new research shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100315161925.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

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