The Infant's Musical Mind

The Infant's Musical Mind

In one of my earliest studies I found that infants frown when musical melodies are played in dissonant intervals, but show interest when the same melodies are played with consonant intervals (Zentner & Kagan, Nature, 383, 29). More recently, we found that infants move rhythmically in response to music and that infants with the highest coordination between their movements with musical time are most likely to display positive emotions (Zentner & Eerola, PNAS, 107, 5568-5573). This suggests that humans are emotionally rewarded by music from a very early age (see also Music and Emotion Project)

Although engagement with music is obvious in most infants, there are also large individual differences. In the wake of this observation, the study of individual differences in musical ability and appreciation has occupied a center stage in our lab's work. Novel tools to measure these individual differences, such as the PROMS, resulted from this work.