Are Rhesus Monkeys Musically Challenged?

THURSDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Rhesus monkeys cannot hear the beat in music, a new study says.

The findings support the view that this ability -- known as beat induction -- is a uniquely human skill, the researchers said. The research also contributes to the understanding of the biology and evolution of music, they said.

For the study, published recently in the journal PLoS One, the researchers assessed the monkeys' ability to hear the beat in music by using electrodes to measure electrical brain signals when the animals listened to music.

While the monkeys were unable to pick up the beat in music, they were able to detect rhythmic groups in music, according to the researchers from the University of Amsterdam and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Previous research found that human adults and newborns can detect the beat in music. This proved that people are born with beat induction and do not need to learn it, the researchers said. Only humans and certain bird species have this natural ability, they noted.

More information

You can learn about the science of music at Exploratorium.

SOURCE: University of Amsterdam, news release, Dec. 13, 2012

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