Rainer Polak (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics): Growing into music and dance in Mali

Evolutionary anthropology and psychology, cognitive science and educational science emphasize the role of instruction and teaching in the processes of social learning, which are fundamental for the emergence, maintenance, adaptation and creative development of cultural traditions (Michael Tomasello, György Gergely, Gergely Csibra, Michele Kline). This also applies to the field of musical cognition research, where, for example, the number of years of musical training is considered an indicator of expertise. In contrast, the cultural anthropology of childhood (David Lancy) and apprenticeship (Jean Lave) as well as cultural developmental psychology (Barbara Rogoff) tend to emphasize from a cross-culturally comparative perspective the role of informal, implicit learning that is largely embedded in social practices. Drawing on three decades of ethnographic fieldwork in Mali, and illustrating with photographic and video examples, this presentation shows that learning processes in traditional music and dance practices in Mali have a very high degree of consistency with the cultural anthropologists' and psychologists' theories of embedded social learning. I discuss how the contrast of these theories with those of evolutionary psychology might be partly explained by conceptual or methodological discrepancies, and what implications the views of the two "camps" might have for their respective counterparts.

Amos Boasson (ELSC – Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Rapid Responses to Auditory Frequency Change, Its Magnitude and Direction – from Brain to Action

Auditory frequency change [FC] may convey to perceivers potentially crucial environmental cues, entailing immediate behavioral responses. Our research-line explores swift (albeit at times covert) effects of FC and its parameters on human motor action, and the junctions where this auditory information may be relayed into motor commands. Previously (Boasson & Granot, 2019) we employed a finger-tapping task, monitoring negative mean asynchrony, muscle-action, and finger acceleration. Isochronous beeps (rate 4 Hz) were set in sequences presenting task-irrelevant increments/ decrements, in frequency/intensity. FC elicited augmented asynchrony, revealing 'melodic' asymmetry: yet more enhanced 'tap-earliness' followed Rise (thus no mere surprise effect). Physiological data detected Rise's effect-onset at ~160 ms post-FC; Fall impacted action significantly later. Diverging response-patterns to FC vs Intensity Change suggested domain-specificity.

Peter Vuust (Centre for Music in the brain, Aarhus University): Groove on the brain: rhythmic complexity and predictive coding

Musical rhythm has a remarkable capacity to move our minds and bodies. I will describe how the theory of predictive coding can be used as a framework for understanding how rhythm and rhythmic complexity are processed in the brain. This theory posits a hierarchical organization of brain responses reflecting fundamental, survival-related mechanisms associated with predicting future events. I review empirical studies of the neural and behavioral effects of syncopation, polyrhythm and groove, and propose how these studies can be seen as special cases of the PC theory. Overall, musical rhythm exploits the brain’s general principles of prediction and that the pleasure and desire for sensorimotor synchronization from musical rhythm could be a result of such mechanisms.

Michael Hove (Fitchburg State University): Feel the beat: Music, bass, and movement

In this talk, I will discuss movement to music and musical features associated with body movement. People often move to music that features a repetitive rhythm and strong bass. I will present several studies that establish links between body movement and bass. The link between movement and bass appears rooted in physiology (i.e., in auditory encoding and vibrotactile activation) and explains the musical convention for low-pitched instruments to lay down the rhythm. I conclude with applications, such as using bass to boost social connection.

Aniruddh Patel (School of Arts and Sciences, Tufts University): Musical beat processing and gene-culture coevolution

A core feature of music cognition is the ability to perceive a beat in complex auditory rhythms and synchronize rhythmic movements to this beat in a predictive and tempo-flexible fashion. Recent theories suggest that engaging in this beat perception and synchronization (BPS) in social contexts had consequences for survival among human ancestors via effects on social bonding or on signaling group strength. In this talk I outline a hypothesis for the neurobiological evolution of BPS based on the theoretical framework of gene-culture coevolution. Building on ideas in a recent paper (Patel 2021, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B), I suggest that human ancestors had two key preadaptations which gave rise to sporadic BPS and which led to the cultural invention and spread of synchronous group audiomotor behavior. These preadaptations were an advanced form of vocal learning and a tendency for coordinated group rhythmic vocalizations. I further suggest that gene-culture coevolution, driven by the social consequences of group BPS, drove neural changes that enhanced the capacity and proclivity for BPS, enabling the kind of sustained BPS humans exhibit today. I outline predictions of this hypothesis for neuroscience, genetics, and cross-species research.

Hugo Merchant (Institute of Neurobiology, National University of Mexico): Neurophysiology of isochronous beat perception in primates

The ability to extract the regular pulse in music and to respond in synchrony to this pulse is called beat synchronization and is a natural human behavior exhibited during dancing and musical ensemble playing. Previously, we showed that macaques can predictively entrain to isochronous metronomes, although they have a bias towards visual rather than auditory rhythmic stimuli (Gamez et al., 2018). In this study we recorded the simultaneous activity of hundreds of cells in the core (A1) and belt (A2) areas of the auditory cortex as well as in the medial premotor areas (SMA) when monkeys performed both a task that included beat perception (BP) and tapping synchronization (TS) epochs and during passive listening of the metronome. Notably, we found that both A1 and A2 not only showed responses associated with auditory sensation in all tasks, but also neural signals related with active sensing. The latter showed activity that increased during BP and TS with a switch in response phase from sensory driven, tens of ms after the stimulus in the passive condition, to a predictive sensory response during BP and TS. In addition, some A2 neurons showed neural responses aligned to the tapping movements, suggesting that the auditory cortex has access to an internal beat prediction signal, probably coming from the cortical premotor system. Indeed, in SMA we found time-varying single-cell responses which, when projected into a low dimensional space, formed rotatory population neural trajectories that showed two main properties. First, a complete circular loop was formed for each produced interval, converging to a similar state-space location close to the tapping time. The convergence to this neural attractor state could be the internal representation of the pulse that is transmitted as a phasic top-down signal to the auditory areas before each tap. Second, these oscillatory trajectories did not overlap across durations, a signature of temporal scaling; instead, they showed a linear increase in their radius as a function of the target interval (Gamez et al., 2019). These preliminary results give experimental support to the notion of a dynamic interplay between the active sensing signals of the auditory areas and the internal beat representation of medial premotor system during rhythmic perception and entrainment.

Elvira Brattico (Centre for Music in the brain, Aarhus University): The rewards of musical interactions - Psychological and neural evidence

Learning to play a tune on a musical instrument can be highly rewarding, especially when this learning is experienced together with others. In this talk, I will present two studies with over 150 preadolescent children showing how the rewards of collective music training have psychological benefits, such as executive functions and self-regulation in health and in neurodevelopmental disorders. Moreover, by means of our recent neuroimaging study with preadolescents, I will discuss the role of musical reward on brain connectivity and on learning in the developmental age.