Monday, February 2, 2009

Research in the seemingly obvious


"Babies often bounce or clap to a rhythm when they're less than a year old. But scientists were unsure whether they learn beat perception early in life, or whether they're born with it.

To find out, a team led by István Winkler from the Institute for Psychology in Budapest, Hungary, and Henkjan Honing from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands tested beat perception in newborns using EEG. This can measure their electrical brain responses to sounds, even when the babies are sleeping.

The team played a rock drum rhythm to 14 sleeping babies two or three days old. Sometimes the sequence skipped a sound without disrupting the rhythm, while other omissions made the rhythm stumble.

When a missed note broke the rhythm, the babies had a key brain response indicating that their sensory expectations were contradicted. This suggests newborns can sense a rhythm and know when to expect the next beat. "Beat perception is there right from birth," Winkler concludes."

Right, babies have probably never heard a rhythm before. Oh wait, they just spent nine months listening to and relying on an approximately 90bpm rhythm of their Mom's heart. They may not know such societally imposed niceties such as pooping in public is bad form, but rythym (still can't spell it) they should know.

In addition, a follow up study to this found that playing rock drums to 2-3day old sleeping babies pisses them off.

1 comment:

  1. Besides, everyone knows babies prefer a laid-back bossa nova beat to steady rock drums anyway.