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Title: Do we dance because we walk? : the impact of regular vestibular experience on the early development of beat production and perception
Author: Rocha-Thomas, Sinead-Elouise
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 4054
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Movement to music is a universal human behaviour (Savage, Brown, Sakai & Currie, 2015). Whilst the strong link between music and movement is clearly bidirectional, the origins are not clear. Studying the emergence of rhythmic skills through infancy provides a window into the perceptual and physical attributes, experience, and contexts necessary, to attain the basics of human musicality. This thesis asks whether the human experience of bipedal locomotion, as a primary source of regular vestibular information, is crucial for sensorimotor synchronisation (SMS), spontaneous motor tempo (SMT), and impacts rhythm perception. The first experiment evidences the emergence of tempo-flexibility when moving to music between 10- and 18-months-of-age. The following study is the first to show that experience of locomotion, including from infant carrying, predicts the temporal matching of infant movement to music. Curious if carrying practices influence the very rhythms that we naturally produce, a large-scale correlational study finds infant SMT is predicted by parent height, but not infant's own body size, such that infants with taller caregivers show a slower SMT than those with shorter caregivers. We contend that this reflects infant experience of being carried by their caregiver. The fourth experiment confirms that experience of being carried at a novel tempo can alter the rhythms infant spontaneously produce. Finally, we asked how information from being carried during locomotion might be changing rhythm perception; specifically, if infants show greater activation of their sensorimotor system when hearing rhythms that match the tempo at which they were carried. Combined, these studies present a highly original piece of research into the ways in which early experiences of locomotion may impact fundamental musical skill.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available