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Babies Found to Dance to Music
March 16, 2010

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Dancing comes naturally to babies, a new study has found. Whether that translates into ability remains to be seen, for some.

In a study published in the latest edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of researchers reported that babies respond by moving in time to music, specifically its rhythm, even moreso than the voices of their parents.

The study tracked 120 babies, ages 5 months to 2 years, and incorporated classical music and rhythmic beats, along with speech patterns. All three types of sounds were played for children who were sitting on a parent's lap. Each parent was wearing headphones and so couldn't hear what was being played. The researchers found that the babies moved their hands, feet, and (in some cases) most of their body in time with the music and the rhythms. When the parents spoke to their children, movements were more rare.

The study also found that the more the babies were able to move in time to the music or the beat, the more they smiled.

It should be noted as well that just the one kind of music, classical, was used in the test. Disco wasn't part of the trial.

University of York psychologist Marcel Zentner reported the findings, which were tracked in conjunction with Zentner's Finnish colleague, Tuomas Eerola, from the University of Jyvaskyla's Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research.

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