Science 3 June 2005:
Vol. 308. no. 5727, p. 1430
Feeling the Beat: Movement Influences Infant Rhythm Perception
Jessica Phillips-Silver and Laurel J. Trainor*
We hear the melody in music, but we feel the beat. We demonstrate that the perception of musical rhythm is a multisensory experience in infancy. In particular, movement of the body, by bouncing on every second versus every third beat of an ambiguous auditory rhythm pattern, influences whether that auditory rhythm pattern is encoded in duple form (a march) or in triple form (a waltz). Visual information is not necessary for the effect, indicating that it likely reflects a strong, early-developing interaction between auditory and vestibular information in the human nervous system.
Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada.
Here is another example of the general phenomenon of behavioral synchrony in humans (see older posts on this subject). In this case, infants are shown to spontaneously move their bodies to rhythmic auditory stimulation. Stimuli included music and rhythm without music, a steady beat alone.