Navigation Links
Beat-keeping sea lion shows surprising rhythmic ability
Date:2/15/2014

Ronan, a California sea lion at Long Marine Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz, became an Internet sensation last year when UCSC scientists published a paper describing her ability to bob her head in time with rhythmic sounds and music in a variety of tempos (see video).

Ronan is the first non-human mammal convincingly shown to be able to keep the beat. Her range and versatility in matching different beats is impressive, according to Peter Cook, who began working with Ronan as a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz. Cook, now a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University, will present his research on Ronan's beat-keeping ability at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago on February 15, in a session devoted to "Rhythmic entrainment in non-human animals."

Cook noted that Ronan can move in time to a wide range of rhythmic auditory stimuli with different tempos, including music. "Along with other recent findings, this suggests that the neural mechanisms underpinning flexible beat keeping may be much more widely distributed across the animal kingdom than previously thought," Cook said.

Aside from humans, rhythmic entrainment had previously been seen only in parrots and other birds with a talent for vocal mimicry. This led some researchers to theorize that beat keeping requires a capacity for complex vocal learning. "The idea was that beat keeping is a fortuitous side effect of adaptations for vocal mimicry, which requires matching incoming auditory signals with outgoing vocal behavior," Cook said.

But sea lions are not known to do vocal mimicry and have limited flexibility in the sounds they make. "Ronan's success poses a real problem for the theory that vocal mimicry is a necessary precondition for rhythmic entrainment," Cook said.

Born in the wild in 2008, Ronan was rescued by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito in 2009 after she was found on Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County. It was her third stranding incident, and she didn't seem to be making it in the wild. She came to Long Marine Lab in January 2010 and joined the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory directed by one of Cook's advisers at UCSC, animal behaviorist Colleen Reichmuth.

The idea to use Ronan in a study of beat keeping was spurred partly by her facility for rapid learning. "From my first interactions with her, it was clear that Ronan was a particularly bright sea lion," Cook said. "Everybody in the animal cognition world, including me, was intrigued by the dancing bird studies, but I remember thinking that no one had attempted a strong effort to show beat keeping in an animal other than a parrot. I figured training a mammal to move in time to music would be hard, but Ronan seemed like an ideal subject."

Cook and research technician Andrew Rouse trained Ronan to bob her head in time with rhythmic sounds, then showed that she could transfer this skill to tempos and music she hadn't heard before. "Given her success at keeping the beat with new rhythm tracks and songs following her initial training, it's possible that keeping the beat isn't that hard for her," Cook said. "She just had to learn what it was we wanted her to do."

Scientists once thought that the underpinnings of musical ability were unique to humans. But human musical ability may in fact have foundations that are shared with animals, according to Cook. "People have assumed that animals lack these abilities. In some cases, people just hadn't looked," he said. "The comparative study of rhythm has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with new methods being attempted and new species tested. It's exciting to be meeting with top scientists in the field at this crucial juncture."


'/>"/>
Contact: Tim Stephens
stephens@ucsc.edu
831-459-2495
University of California - Santa Cruz
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Genetic survey of endangered Antarctic blue whales shows surprising diversity
2. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
3. Weakness can be an advantage in surviving deadly parasites, a new study shows
4. Study shows unified process of evolution in bacteria and sexual eukaryotes
5. Sexual reproduction brings long-term benefits, study shows
6. UCSB study shows forest insects and diseases arrive in US via imported plants
7. Study shows botanical formula fights prostate cancer
8. Transcatheter aortic valve implantation shows promise in patients with severe aortic stenosis
9. Buy coal? New analysis shows purchasing fossil fuel deposits best way to fight climate change
10. Global Surgical Devices Market Growth Driven by Improving Standards of Living and Longer Life Expectancies, Research Shows
11. CU research shows warming climate threatens ecology at mountain research site west of Boulder
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 21, 2017   Neurotechnology , ... recognition technologies, today announced the release of the ... which provides improved facial recognition using up to ... a single computer. The new version uses deep ... accuracy, and it utilizes a Graphing Processing Unit ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG solutions "Made in Germany "  ... ... multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity fraud. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog Identification Systems) ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity ... ...
(Date:3/7/2017)...   HireVue , the leading provider of video ... best talent, faster, today announced the additions of ... Diana Kucer as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). ... poised to drive continued growth in the company,s new ... record bookings in 2017. "Companies worldwide turn ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT announced a ... or "Propellon"), a start-up created by FACIT focused ... FACIT,s investment, combined with non-dilutive capital, achieves a ... seed funding enables Propellon to accelerate the nomination ... for financing and/or entering a strategic partnership for ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017   ... independent provider of product and service solutions ... that it has acquired EPL Archives, Inc., ... customers across the entire regulated product research, ... sample, document storage and ancillary services. EPL ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Bahama (PRWEB) , ... March 21, 2017 , ... Okyanos ... educational seminar as part of their live events series, “Stem Cell Therapy: The Next ... cell facility under the 2013 Stem Cell Research and Therapy Act, Okyanos ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... ... ... Benchworks CEO Thad L. Bench Sr. will participate in the ... Diego. The event is a gathering of executive leadership from companies in the pharmaceutical, ... will also participate in the forum. Participants will discuss the future of the life ...
Breaking Biology Technology: