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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jul;1169:459-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04581.x.

Studying synchronization to a musical beat in nonhuman animals.

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  • 1The Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.


The recent discovery of spontaneous synchronization to music in a nonhuman animal (the sulphur-crested cockatoo Cacatua galerita eleonora) raises several questions. How does this behavior differ from nonmusical synchronization abilities in other species, such as synchronized frog calls or firefly flashes? What significance does the behavior have for debates over the evolution of human music? What kinds of animals can synchronize to musical rhythms, and what are the key methodological issues for research in this area? This paper addresses these questions and proposes some refinements to the "vocal learning and rhythmic synchronization hypothesis."

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