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J Exp Child Psychol. 2017 Jul;159:159-174. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.01.006. Epub 2017 Mar 10.

Babies know bad dancing when they see it: Older but not younger infants discriminate between synchronous and asynchronous audiovisual musical displays.

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Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA.


Movement to music is a universal human behavior, yet little is known about how observers perceive audiovisual synchrony in complex musical displays such as a person dancing to music, particularly during infancy and childhood. In the current study, we investigated how perception of musical audiovisual synchrony develops over the first year of life. We habituated infants to a video of a person dancing to music and subsequently presented videos in which the visual track was matched (synchronous) or mismatched (asynchronous) with the audio track. In a visual-only control condition, we presented the same visual stimuli with no sound. In Experiment 1, we found that older infants (8-12months) exhibited a novelty preference for the mismatched movie when both auditory information and visual information were available and showed no preference when only visual information was available. By contrast, younger infants (5-8months) in Experiment 2 did not discriminate matching stimuli from mismatching stimuli. This suggests that the ability to perceive musical audiovisual synchrony may develop during the second half of the first year of infancy.


Audiovisual synchrony; Infant perception; Intersensory perception; Music; Music development; Rhythm

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