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Re: Innate responses to sound

Hi Ross -

Good luck with your search. I agree with Brian that it's got to be v
difficult to get much beyond conjecture. Also, keep in mind the
evolutionary concepts of "drift" and "spandrels" - not everything is a
selected trait.

Stop me if this reference is too obvious, but it seems to fit squarely
within your subject:
Mithen, S.J. 2005. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music,
Language, Mind and Body. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 374 pp. ISBN
13-780297-643173, ISBN 10-0-297-64317 7

I think Mithen stretches beyond his evidence but it's a pretty
comprehensive consideration of the topic.


Ross Rochford wrote:
> Hi,
> I am considering for my thesis an exploration of innate responses to sounds, that is, unlearned and presumably having evolved to serve some function. The idea of the evolutionary lag where we have evolved to adapt to an environment that existed thousands of years ago interests me, I wonder what the implications of this are for how we respond to sound and how music affects our mood.
> I am looking for papers (or books) on responses to sound that are likely to be innate in humans. Also papers that discuss the evolutionary origins of our responses to sound and music and how our past environment (and tasks therein, e.g. hunting) have shaped them. I am hoping for the kinds of explanations that have been proposed for arachnophobia, that a fear of spiders had survival advantage as we may have evolved among poisonous spiders.
> While researching, I found a suggestion that our response to nails on a blackboard is because of the similarity (of its spectrum) to the warning call of macaque monkeys. Although I don't believe this is an adequate explanation (the warning calls don't produce the same response as nails on a blackboard in humans), it is similar to what I am looking for.
> Any suggestions on where to start are greatly appreciated.
> Ross

Dan Stowell
Centre for Digital Music
Dept of Electronic Engineering
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road, London E1 4NS