Brains hate randomness: Patterning skills for music and language in humans and other animals

Date: 
Friday, January 24, 2014 - 14:00 - 16:00
Location: 
Room A.107, UAntwerp (Prinsstraat 13)
Presenter: 
Andrea Ravignani

Human beings are excellent at perceiving and producing sensory structures. In particular, cognitive abilities for patterning seem crucial in language and music processing. The comparative approach, testing a range of animal species, can help unveil the evolutionary history of such patterning abilities. Here, I present experimental data and ongoing modeling work in humans and other primates. I compare monkeys' and humans' skills in processing sensory dependencies in auditory stimuli, a crucial feature of human cognition. As pattern production and perception abilities have been shown to differ in humans, the same divide could exist in other species. I present ongoing work using "electronic drums" I developed specifically for apes, which will allow chimpanzees to spontaneously produce non-vocal acoustic patterns. To reconstruct ancestral states of human temporal patterning skills, I present ongoing work using agent-based models of acoustic communication. I conclude by outlining the research I will do during my visit, namely exploring structural similarities between linguistic and musical rhythm.

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