comScore Babies Listening to the Backstreet Boys for Science | The Mary Sue

A Bunch of Babies Listened to the Backstreet Boys for Scientific Research

Think carefully, baby: Howie or A.J.?


At what point does an infant’s response to music transition from unrelated flailing to busting a baby-move? A group of scientists undeterred by extreme cuteness observed a bunch of babies “dancing” to The Backstreet Boys to examine when humans develop a sense of rhythm (and if, right? I can’t be the only one).

The Japanese researchers attached monitors to study participants’ pudgy little baby limbs and recorded the adorable squirming of three and four-month-old infants. The babies listened to both Backstreet Boys and the Japanese singer WANICO, but since only the former had a song on the Booty Call soundtrack, BB’s presence in this research is way more interesting to me.

Here’s a video from the study. For science.

Although the recorded motions of most participants showed they were just doing their baby thing rather than actually reacting to the beat, data collected from two of the infants showed they were able to synchronize directly with the dulcet tones of Nick, Kevin, Brian, Howie and A.J.

There were two infants who demonstrated striking increases in the rhythmic movements via kicking or arm-waving around the musical tempo during listening to music […] these individuals were significantly synchronized to the musical beat. Moreover, we found a clear increase in the formant variability of vocalizations in the group during music perception. These results suggest that infants at this age are already primed with their bodies to interact with music via limb movements and vocalizations.

So, if humans can develop a sense of rhythm mere months after leaving their mother’s birth canal, why doesn’t everyone blossom into a dance superstar? Tell me why, science! I need to know—alright, someone please cut me off. I’m about to go full ’90s.

(via Discover, image via Yohann Legrand)

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