In this weeks online edition of PNAS Marcel Zentner and Tuomas Eerola report on a study in which they carried out two experiments with a total of 120 infants, aged between 5 and 24 months. The infants were exposed to various musical and rhythmic stimuli, including isochronous drumbeats. Control stimuli consisted of adult- and infant-directed speech. The researchers could show that infants engage significantly more in rhythmic movement to music, and other rhythmically regular sounds, than to speech. The findings are suggestive of a predisposition for rhythmic movement in response to music and other metrically regular sounds. The study also adds to the existing evidence that infants have a liking and preference for rhythmical music from day one, a predisposition that preceeds language.
Zentner, M., & Eerola, T. (2010). Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1000121107