Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chimps and Music

We (humans) are not alone in our appreciation of music.  A recent study conducted in Japan shows a baby chimp, named Sakura, pulling on a cord to repeat music she wants to play again.
The tunes used in the experiment last about 30-40 seconds, some are pleasant and some dissonant.  Sakura, the baby chimp, demonstrated over and over her preference for pleasant music tunes over dissonant ones.

Similar studies have demonstrated that human babies have a keen ability to appreciate music from a very young age, a few days old; yet testing music appreciation on non-human baby primates had never been done before.  Sakura had never been exposed to music prior to hearing the tunes in the lab.

If a "music gene" exists, such as was speculated in 2000, humans and chimps may be sharing it.

If so, what would Mother Nature have endowed us with such a gene?  What is its function?
Some speculate that it may have helped our ancestors to survive in the wild.  This is only speculation at this point, yet worth investigating further.

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