Animals and Music

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January 8, 2013 by finetuningblog

Now that my birthday and the holidays are all over, I can begin to devote time to Fine Tuning again. I do apologize for the brief silence, and I hope you all had a great week. But let’s get down to business: music making a difference.

I’ve already discussed how music affects our emotions in many ways; however a recent fascinating study shows that apparently birds tend to react to music in a similar way. The study was conducted at the Emory University. Apparently, when certain birds sing, the birds listening react in specific ways. The birdsongs affect the amygdala region, the area in the brain that deals with emotions and decision-making.

Sarah Earp (Emory undergraduate student) said that breeding female birds have the same ‘neural reward system’ we do when they listen to a male bird’s song. Consequently, when a male bird hears another male bird’s song, the amygdala reacts in the same way ours would when we hear a song we don’t like.

The scientists of Emory University believe this is because the male birds interpret the song as a hostile threat, or some other form of aggression. If we went further, this could explain why boy-bands don’t have a huge male following. Maybe it’s a stretch, or maybe we feel threatened.

More research conducted by Dr. Sober at Emory proves that baby birds learn to sing in the same way we all learned to speak – through emulating the sounds of adults.

Apparently, birdsongs are the subject of many intense scientific studies. However, other scientists have begun experimenting with music and its influence on other animals.

Wisconsin psychologist, Charles T. Snowden teamed up with David Teie of the National Symphony Orchestra to perform an experiment to see the effects of music on the Central and South America-dwelling cotton-top Tamarin, a species of monkey.

Teie designed several songs, some meant to create aggression, others meant to calm. He then increased the songs’ speed by eight times during post production. This put the songs into a speed and frequency the Tamarins would understand.

Teie and Snowden played some human music for the Tamarins, who were unaffected. However, when the two played the sped up songs crafted for the experiment, the Tamarins showed definite emotional reactions. During the aggressive songs, they began to look around, stick out their tongues and shake their heads. During the calming songs, that behavior ceased, and they began to settle down.

And I mean, come on, this exists.





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