Let’s rock! Even newborns can follow a rhythm

Infant brain responds with error signal when beat is disturbed, study finds

by Robin Nixon Jan 26 09

The finding, published in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds to growing evidence that the newborn brain is not the blank slate it was once thought to be.

Rather, scientists have shown, at birth we already have sophisticated methods for interpreting the world. Discrimination may be crude, explained lead researcher István Winkler of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, but "the basic algorithms are in place already."

This may be particularly true when it comes to sound. Infants as young as 2 days old can process pitch and tell if a series of notes are rising or falling in scale. And it is now known they have rhythm, too. Newborns can't exactly swing their hips to prove they can jive, so Winkler and his colleague Henkjan Honing of the University of Amsterdam monitored the brains of 14 infants listening to variations of a rock rhythm — complete with drum, snare and high hat cymbal.

When "metrically-unimportant portions" of the beat were silenced, nothing much changed among the auditory-related activity in the brain, Honing said. But when the rhythm was disturbed, particularly by omitting the downbeat, the infant brain responded with an error signal: An expectation for a rhythmic pattern was not met.

"A baby's auditory system is working the same way as an adult's, in that it is always making predictions," Winkler said. If the prediction is incorrect, an error signal helps gauge "how much you are off the actual target," he said.

Perceiving emotion While spoken language can take more than a year to develop, "music is one of the earliest things parents have with their children," Honing said.

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© 2009 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

Music . . . as Good as Laughing!

Cardiovascular Benefits Of Music Similar To Those Found In Laughter

Link to article in Medical News Today

Listening to your favorite music may be good for your cardiovascular system. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that the emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function.

Music, selected by study participants because it made them feel good and brought them a sense of joy, caused tissue in the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate (or expand) in order to increase blood flow.

This healthy response matches what the same researchers found in a 2005 study of laughter. On the other hand, when study volunteers listened to music they perceived as stressful, their blood vessels narrowed, producing a potentially unhealthy response that reduces blood flow. The results of the study, conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, were presented at the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, on November 11, 2008, in New Orleans.

“We had previously demonstrated that positive emotions, such as laughter, were good for vascular health. So, a logical question was whether other emotions, such as those evoked by music, have a similar effect,” says principal investigator Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We knew that individual people would react differently to different types of music, so in this study, we enabled participants to select music based upon their likes and dislikes.”

Click here to read the rest of the article

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Dr. Miller’s funding sources include the American Heart Association, Veterans Administration and the National Institutes of Health. “Positive Emotions and the Endothelium: Does Joyful Music Improve Vascular Health?” Miller M, Beach V, Mangano C, Vogel RA. Oral Presentation. American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, 11/11/2008.

Source: Bill Seiler University of Maryland Medical Center

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Stand By Me

Song Around the World
(Kindermusik & Voice of Clayton, Feb 2 09) Go to this Blog

One of the things I love about teaching Kindermusik to preschool and elementary age children is the opportunity to enlighten them about the rich and wonderful “world” of music. This semester our focus in Imagine That class is “Cities~Busy Places, Friendly Faces” where we enjoy music from cities all over the world and explore things like street vendor music, city rhythms, high and low musical concepts that are mirrored in the high buildings and elevators and escalators, the sounds of the city, street musicians, concert halls, ballet dancers, jazz musicians and much more.

When I heard this video version of “Stand by Me” it reminded me of how in Kindermusik class we become a community and support each other teacher to parent, parent to child, family to family, student to teacher, friend to friend. What a wonderful way to explore the thought of standing by each other all over the world. Enjoy this version of a favorite song.

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