Our sensitivity to music is innate, not acquired, study finds

Our sensitivity to music is innate, not acquired, study finds

Music seems to be a language understood by everyone. But the scientific community does not know how to explain precisely where this natural sensitivity to the fourth art comes from. A South Korean study provides elements of understanding of this transcultural phenomenon.

Research has long sought to explain why the fourth art has always been present in all cultures. Several areas of the brain are known to be involved in the perception of sound, including speech and music. French-Canadian researchers reached the conclusion in 2020 that neurons in the right auditory cortex participate in music recognition, while those in the left auditory cortex are more involved in language processing.

Despite everything, there remain gray areas regarding the encoding of musical information. To shed light on them, researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology used an artificial neural network to see how our brains process music. They used AudioSet, a large collection of sound data provided by Google, to teach this network to listen to various sounds (animals, machines, music, etc.).

The academics found that certain neurons in the network responded selectively to music. They exhibited low response levels to sounds that were not musical in nature. Conversely, they showed great sensitivity to various forms of music, whether instrumental or vocal. The research team concluded that these artificial neurons behaved like those in the human auditory cortex. For example, they were less receptive to melodies broken up into short intervals. And this, whatever their musical genre.

The researchers therefore concluded that the neurons linked to the musical instinct develop spontaneously, without the need to train them in the fourth art. “Our results support the idea that evolutionary adaptation may underlie diverse functional settings in the brain, providing insight into how the universality of music and other innate cognitive functions arise.“, they wrote in their article, published in the journal Nature Communications.

This research work has limitations given that it does not take into consideration the developmental process that follows music learning. But it constitutes a scientific breakthrough in our understanding of this innate relationship that we have with the fourth art.

The benefits of music on our brain

Slide: The benefits of music on our brain