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Humans and Birds May Have Music in Common
Date:1/11/2013

f a person forced to listen to music they hate.

"The neural response to birdsong appears to depend on social context, which can be the case with humans as well," Earp said. "Both birdsong and music elicit responses not only in brain regions associated directly with reward, but also in interconnected regions that are thought to regulate emotion. That suggests that they both may activate evolutionarily ancient mechanisms that are necessary for reproduction and survival."

The caveat: Bird brains are not human brains, and many neural reward pathways are not shared between species. But Earp, now a Stravinsky-loving medial student at Cleveland Clinic, looks forward to digging deeper on the same subject.

"Perhaps techniques will someday be developed," she suggested, "(that) image neural responses in baleen whales, whose songs are both musical and learned, and whose brain anatomy is more easily compared with humans."

More information

The U.S. Library of Congress has more on music and the brain.

-- Alan Mozes

SOURCE: Emory University, news release, December 2012


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