Music and the Brain
August 19, 2008 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Cockatoos are much better dancers than macaws. Well that was my clear conclusion after watching the first two vid clips linked to why animals dance in this Guardian feature. And since this is from a serious researcher I don't think they are faked. For those with much more time, this site has an interesting podcast on the topic of music and the brain.
posted by binturong (21 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Subjecting domesticated animals to the Backstreet Boys is nothing short of animal cruelty.

The bird's got moves, though.
posted by baphomet at 7:26 PM on August 19, 2008

That first song is actually improved by the CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I would purchase an entire album of Backstreet Boys songs with tropical bird overdubs.
posted by emelenjr at 7:32 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had a blue crowned conure that would stop everything and start dancing whenever Bob Marley came on. It was HILARIOUS. Her favorite was Jammin. And she would sing along.

Here is the link with the bird videos.

I love the cockatoo. Esp. when she changes it up and starts doing double leg lifts. Classic.
posted by aacheson at 7:36 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh boy no one in my family can go past a Cocky without bouncing up and down and saying "Dance Cocky Dance!"

gomi possibly comes from odd family
posted by gomichild at 7:41 PM on August 19, 2008

Check this out.
posted by aacheson at 7:46 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by darkstar at 8:01 PM on August 19, 2008

Who says white birds can't dance?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 8:12 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Bird Channel (there had to be one,right?) had a dance contest. I know this because a Lifeboat member's cockatoo is a "finalist."
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:45 PM on August 19, 2008

I'm sure if PKD were given a chance to see that while still alive he might have thought to suggest some sort of auditory implant to lowers that cry down to a safer decibel level.
posted by christopherious at 9:10 PM on August 19, 2008

For the purposes, of course, of rendering these communications somewhat comprehensible.
posted by christopherious at 9:15 PM on August 19, 2008

aww, I love that Snowball the happy boyband groover Cockatoo. Totally adorable.

This is the Michael Jackson of birds.

A group bird dance that is my very favorite. The Starlings of Ot Moor in their twilight ballet. It's incredible. The video needs to be made with better music though.
posted by nickyskye at 9:32 PM on August 19, 2008

Those starlings on Otmoor remind me of Dementors!
posted by binturong at 9:53 PM on August 19, 2008

Macaw responds: Konichiwa Bitches! (via everlasting blort)
posted by Kabanos at 7:06 AM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Just noticed that there is a caged mynah(?) just next to that first cockatoo who is also rocking out, albeit with less style.
posted by Knicke at 7:14 AM on August 20, 2008

Man, I love that cockatoo dancing vid. That bird has such rhythm, I love it when it air drums. And it's so fun when it bows afterwards.

synchronization to an auditory beat is referred to as entrainment.

huh. That's so interesting. I wonder why it's called entrainment? It seems such an unlikely term. The term on Wikipedia.

From Adena Schachner's page:
When speaking to infants, adults in all cultures modify their speech to have a higher pitch, greater pitch variability, slower speed, and longer pauses. Our research has suggested that young infants' social preferences can be modified by the presence or absence of this infant-directed speech.

That works in communicating with dogs and cats too.

She says:

We suggest that infants encode the appropriateness of vocal behavior and use that information to guide subsequent preference for individual social partners, an ability that may serve as an important foundation for social reasoning.

"social reasoning" Good term.

Thanks for the post binturong.
posted by nickyskye at 9:14 AM on August 20, 2008

This is the single greatest cockatoo dance video ever filmed.

He rocks so hard that he has to take a break, then it's back to rocking out even harder than ever.
posted by quin at 10:20 AM on August 20, 2008

I'd much prefer it if my mom's cockatiels would dance instead of hump that stupid stuffed poodle doll on the top of their cage...
posted by at 12:44 PM on August 20, 2008

synchronization to an auditory beat is referred to as entrainment.

An amateur band rehearsing in a nearby yard
Watching the tele and thinking about your holidays

That's Entertainment.

Two lovers kissing amongst the scream of midnight
Two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude
Getting a cab and travelling on buses
Reading the graffiti about slashed seat affairs

That's Entertainment.

(apologies -- that sentence caused an earworm)
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:22 PM on August 20, 2008

binturong, your post prompted me to do a little research into why humans are inclined to dance when listening to music.

For anyone else whose curiosity was piqued by the idea of entrainment:

The Neural Basis of Human Dance

This makes sense to me how music changes mood, inspires exercise. It also seems that music and language are intertwined in the brain.

On another blog, Music Matters: a blog on music cognition, it seems Snowball the dancing cockatoo really made global history in the world of neuroscience, around the planet. Just shows me how what may seem like a funny video posted to YouTube could be perceived in so many different ways and even be of tremendous scientific importance.

Years ago I saw a documentary about the cultural anthropology of dance, in which the evolution of dance was described as moving from 2 dimensionally up and down, forward and back, side to side, then to gyrating 3 dimensionally. I seem to remember that farmer societies danced side to side or in circles.

Interesting for me to think of these areas of the brain that overlap: music, rhythm, math, dance, language/communicating, emotions, socializing.
posted by nickyskye at 10:24 PM on August 20, 2008

Interesting links nickyskye. I find music-making and dance fascinating behaviour from many aspects and there are shelves of books with various interpretations of it in sociology, anthropology, ethology etc. But I'm happy just to think of it as a hell of a lot of fun and something that adds a lot to my pleasure in life. I'm always a bit puzzled by the many people to whom dance apparently does not speak. I think most toddlers move unselfconsciously to music but later (especially for boys and men in our culture) get embarrassed out of it. As the saying goes: dance like nobody's watching!
posted by binturong at 11:15 AM on August 21, 2008

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