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Laurel J Trainor and Laura Cirelli (2015)

Rhythm and interpersonal synchrony in early social development

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337(1):45-52.

Adults who engage in synchronous movement to music later report liking each other better, remembering more about each other, trusting each other more, and are more likely to cooperate with each other compared to adults who engage in asynchronous movements. Although poor motor coordination limits infants' ability to entrain to a musical beat, they perceive metrical structure in auditory rhythm patterns, their movements are affected by the tempo of music they hear, and if they are bounced by an adult to a rhythm pattern, the manner of this bouncing can affect their auditory interpretation of the meter of that pattern. In this paper, we review studies showing that by 14 months of age, infants who are bounced in synchrony with an adult subsequently show more altruistic behavior toward that adult in the form of handing back objects "accidentally" dropped by the adult compared to infants who are bounced asynchronously with the adult. Furthermore, increased helpfulness is directed at the synchronized bounce partner, but not ata neutral stranger. Interestingly, however, helpfulness does generalize to a "friend" of the synchronized bounce partner. In sum, synchronous movement between infants and adults has a powerful effect on infants' expression of directed prosocial behavior.

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