Feeling the Beat! The Science Behind All Those Groovy Birds
You’re listening to a great track—something that really rocks you—and you start swaying in time, moving to the beat. You’re in the groove! Right?
Not with me? Watch THIS
But how did that happen? Your brain does it automatically. You don’t learn it; it just happens. It’s essential to be human. Infants and toddlers do it. Humans of all varieties do it. Regardless of culture, training, age, disabilities—we all know how to move our bodies to a recurring beat. It’s the basis of sports, music, communication, dancing, interaction with others. Our brain processes an external recurring signal (the beat) and forecasts when the next one will occur. That makes it possible for us to entrain our bodies to the beat. Entrainment is the key to interacting with others.
Okay, now watch THIS.
So, is it uniquely human? When science focuses on a human behavior that is ubiquitous to all societies, past and present, then evidence points to something embedded in our DNA. It’s certainly an important asset and essential for cooperative behavior and therefore survival. Such an asset would be valuable and essential for other species too. That’s why science studies this rhythmic capacity in other species.
This cockatoo, Snowball, a resident of a bird rescue site, spontaneously began moving to the beat when his caretakers were playing their favorite music. This ability to calculate the timing of the next beat and moving your body to occur with it—cannot be taught. What can be taught is which body movement you wish to use to study this innate asset. Snowball saw his caretakers dancing and he joined in using the physical tools he has with his body. A very social thing to do. A bonding with others.