Musical Brains: Hard Wired for Music

ambience: computer generated musical tones

We’re listening to an experiment that tests the musical capability of infants. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Sandra Trehub is a psychologist at the University of Toronto, where she’s working to unlock the musical mysteries in an infant’s mind. She’s found that babies are able to recognize small changes in simple tunes, such as the ones we’re hearing right now.

“They were excellent at tune recognition, so if you presented a tune a number of times, they could notice very tiny changes, for example, if you simply changed the tempo. You made it faster, or slower, but kept the rhythmic structure intact. So we can recognize tunes through those kinds of changes — and they could as well.”

To Dr. Trehub this indicates that infants are born with an innate musical knowledge, and that almost everyone could grow up to have at least a small amount of musical talent. Working with six-month old children, Trehub has made some astonishing discoveries about the “hard-wired” musical capabilities of human beings.

“So if we talk about the scale of C Major, for example, and we can write a tune in the scale of C Major, that tune is going to have no sharps or flats, and if we put one in, we hear it as a wrong note. It stands out to us in that way.”

And Dr. Trehub has found that those wrong notes stand out to infants as well.

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Musical Brains: Hard Wired for Music

According to a professor of psychology, at birth, the human mind has an innate ability to recognize musical patterns.
Air Date:03/11/2009
Scientist:
Transcript:


ambience: computer generated musical tones

We're listening to an experiment that tests the musical capability of infants. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Sandra Trehub is a psychologist at the University of Toronto, where she's working to unlock the musical mysteries in an infant's mind. She's found that babies are able to recognize small changes in simple tunes, such as the ones we're hearing right now.

"They were excellent at tune recognition, so if you presented a tune a number of times, they could notice very tiny changes, for example, if you simply changed the tempo. You made it faster, or slower, but kept the rhythmic structure intact. So we can recognize tunes through those kinds of changes -- and they could as well."

To Dr. Trehub this indicates that infants are born with an innate musical knowledge, and that almost everyone could grow up to have at least a small amount of musical talent. Working with six-month old children, Trehub has made some astonishing discoveries about the "hard-wired" musical capabilities of human beings.

"So if we talk about the scale of C Major, for example, and we can write a tune in the scale of C Major, that tune is going to have no sharps or flats, and if we put one in, we hear it as a wrong note. It stands out to us in that way."

And Dr. Trehub has found that those wrong notes stand out to infants as well.

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music