It's all in the rhythm: music can help babies' social skills | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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It's all in the rhythm: music can help babies' social skills

health and fitness Updated: Jun 30, 2014 17:54 IST

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Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada have found that bouncing to a musical beat in time with others could instill helpfulness in babies.

While it has already been proven that people who move in time together in activities ranging from dancing to rowing a boat are likely to bond and work together, the McMaster study is believed to be the first to study the effects on babies.

"Moving in sync with others is an important part of musical activities," says lead author and doctoral student Laura Cirelli. "These effects show that movement is a fundamental part of music that affects social behavior from a very young age."

Researchers worked in pairs to bounce each baby in the study, which tested a total of 68 babies.

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When the music started playing, one researcher bounced the baby in a forward facing carrier, while the other researcher stood facing the baby and the person holding him.

The pairs of researchers bounced either in sync or at a different tempo, depending upon whether they were in the test or control group.

When the music stopped, subjects were given a classical test of child altruism in which the researcher who had been facing him would pretend to accidentally drop an object to see if the baby would help him.

The babies who had been bounced in sync with the researcher across from them were 20 percent more likely to help than those bounced offbeat.

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Cirelli believes her findings are significant towards building a more cooperative social climate and that singing, clapping and dancing in time to music should be an essential part of developmental learning.

Moving forward, Cirelli is now working on a project to determine whether the babies' bouncing-inspired helpfulness extends to others, or if it is geared solely towards his bouncing partner.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of Developmental Science.