Thursday, September 02, 2010

Their Brains on Music

Daniel Levitin's recent book spawned an entertaining 'documentary' entitled 'This is Your Brain on Music'. The show was peripherally about my brain, focusing for some deeply uninteresting reason on Sting's brain and MRIs, none of which showed anything during the show.
Shows like this are almost always utter piffle, and so this was. But there was an extraordinary claim - that humans are the only animals who synchronize on rhythms. It is astonishing to me that anyone would make this claim; it is a claim VERY hard to support and easy to demolish.
So let me begin with the latter.
Merengue Dog. I grant the dog could be responding to Svengali-like direction from the human.

Let's try Snowball:

Perhaps coached - let's try Snowball and Gaga to a human who simply does not GET Gaga's song at all, while the bird does:

The human here is is struggling to understand what Lady Gaga is doing; the bird has it cold. (In fact the human strikes me a natural Green party candidate in Canada; this bird is too smart to run for office.)
So I am unsure but I Do not buy the claim about the unique human skill to get musical rhythm.
On the other hand I still love this:

And it beats the hell out of the dog and the bird.


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