Thursday, January 8, 2009

Studying synchronization to a musical beat in nonhuman animals

The recent discovery of spontaneous synchronization to music in a nonhuman animal (the sulphur-crested cockatoo Cacatua galerita eleanora) raises several questions.
How does this behavior differ from non-musical synchronization abilities in other species, such as synchronized frog calls or firefly flashes? What significance does the behavior have for debates over the evolution of human music? What kinds of animals can synchronize to music, and what are the key methodological issues for research in this area? This paper addresses these questions and proposes some refinements to the “vocal learning and rhythmic synchronization hypothesis.”