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  Commonality and variation in mental representations of music revealed by a cross-cultural comparison of rhythm priors in 15 countries

Jacoby, N., Polak, R., Grahn, J. A., Cameron, D. J., Lee, K. M., Godoy, R., et al. (2024). Commonality and variation in mental representations of music revealed by a cross-cultural comparison of rhythm priors in 15 countries. Nature Human Behaviour. doi:10.1038/s41562-023-01800-9.

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Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.




Jacoby, Nori1, 2, Author                 
Polak, Rainer3, Author                 
Grahn, Jessica A.4, Author
Cameron, Daniel J.5, Author
Lee, Kyung Myun6, 7, Author
Godoy, Ricardo8, Author
Undurraga, Eduardo A.9, 10, Author
Huanca, Tomás11, Author
Thalwitzer, Timon12, Author
Doumbia, Noumouké13, Author
Goldberg, Daniel14, Author
Margulis, Elizabeth H.15, Author
Wong, Patrick C. M.16, Author
Jure, Luis17, Author
Rocamora, Martín18, 19, Author
Fujii, Shinya20, Author
Savage, Patrick E.20, 21, Author
Ajimi, Jun22, Author
Konno, Rei20, Author
Oishi, Sho20, Author
Jakubowski, Kelly23, AuthorHolzapfel, Andre24, AuthorMungan, Esra25, AuthorKaya, Ece26, 27, Author                 Rao, Preeti28, AuthorRohit, Mattur A.28, AuthorAlladi, Suvarna29, AuthorTarr, Bronwyn30, 31, AuthorAnglada-Tort, Manuel1, 32, Author                 Harrison, Peter M. C.1, 33, Author                 McPherson, Malinda J.34, 35, 36, AuthorDolan, Sophie34, 37, AuthorDurango, Alex34, 36, 38, AuthorMcDermott, Josh H.33, 35, 36, 39, Author more..
1Research Group Computational Auditory Perception, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society, ou_3024247              
2Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA, ou_persistent22              
3RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion, University of Oslo, Blindern, Oslo, Norway, ou_persistent22              
4Brain and Mind Institute and Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, ou_persistent22              
5Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, ou_persistent22              
6School of Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, Republic of Korea , ou_persistent22              
7Graduate School of Culture Technology, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, ou_persistent22              
8Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA, ou_persistent22              
9Escuela de Gobierno, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile , Santiago, Chile, ou_persistent22              
10CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars programme, CIFAR, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, ou_persistent22              
11Centro Boliviano de Investigación y Desarrollo Socio Integral, San Borja, Bolivia, ou_persistent22              
12Department of Musicology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, ou_persistent22              
13Sciences de l’Education, Université Catholique d’Afrique de l’Ouest, Bamako, Mali, ou_persistent22              
14Department of Music, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA, ou_persistent22              
15Department of Music, Princeton University , Princeton, NJ, USA, ou_persistent22              
16Department of Linguistics & Modern Languages and Brain and Mind Institute, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China, ou_persistent22              
17School of Music, Universidad de la República , Montevideo, Uruguay, ou_persistent22              
18Signal Processing Department, School of Engineering, Universidad de la República , Montevideo, Uruguay, ou_persistent22              
19Music Technology Group, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, ou_persistent22              
20Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University, Fujisawa, Japan, ou_persistent22              
21School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, ou_persistent22              
22Department of Traditional Japanese Music, Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo, Japan, ou_persistent22              
23Department of Music, Durham University, Durham, UK, ou_persistent22              
24Division of Media Technology and Interaction Design, KTH Royal Institute of Technology , Stockholm, Sweden, ou_persistent22              
25Department of Psychology, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, ou_persistent22              
26Research Group Neural and Environmental Rhythms, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society, ou_3177420              
27Cognitive Science Master Program, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, ou_persistent22              
28Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, India, ou_persistent22              
29Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, India, ou_persistent22              
30Department of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford , Oxford, UK, ou_persistent22              
31Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, ou_persistent22              
32Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK, ou_persistent22              
33Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge , Cambridge, UK, ou_persistent22              
34Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, ou_persistent22              
35Program in Speech and Hearing Biosciences and Technology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, ou_persistent22              
36McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, ou_persistent22              
37Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, USA, ou_persistent22              
38Neurosciences Graduate Program, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, ou_persistent22              
39Center for Brains, Minds & Machines, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, ou_persistent22              


Free keywords: Human behaviour
 Abstract: Music is present in every known society but varies from place to place. What, if anything, is universal to music cognition? We measured a signature of mental representations of rhythm in 39 participant groups in 15 countries, spanning urban societies and Indigenous populations. Listeners reproduced random ‘seed’ rhythms; their reproductions were fed back as the stimulus (as in the game of ‘telephone’), such that their biases (the prior) could be estimated from the distribution of reproductions. Every tested group showed a sparse prior with peaks at integer-ratio rhythms. However, the importance of different integer ratios varied across groups, often reflecting local musical practices. Our results suggest a common feature of music cognition: discrete rhythm ‘categories’ at small-integer ratios. These discrete representations plausibly stabilize musical systems in the face of cultural transmission but interact with culture-specific traditions to yield the diversity that is evident when mental representations are probed across many cultures.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2021-08-222023-12-072024-03-04
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1038/s41562-023-01800-9
 Degree: -



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Title: Nature Human Behaviour
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: London : Nature Research
Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 2397-3374
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/2397-3374