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

Friday, January 24, 2014 - 14:00 - 16:00
Room A.107, UAntwerp (Prinsstraat 13)
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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