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  • 1.
    Larsson, Matz
    Örebro University Hospital. The Cardiology Clinic, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden; Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Incidental sounds of locomotion in animal cognition2012In: Animal Cognition, ISSN 1435-9448, E-ISSN 1435-9456, Vol. 15, no 1, p. 1-13Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The highly synchronized formations that characterize schooling in fish and the flight of certain bird groups have frequently been explained as reducing energy expenditure. I present an alternative, or complimentary, hypothesis that synchronization of group movements may improve hearing perception. Although incidental sounds produced as a by-product of locomotion (ISOL) will be an almost constant presence to most animals, the impact on perception and cognition has been little discussed. A consequence of ISOL may be masking of critical sound signals in the surroundings. Birds in flight may generate significant noise; some produce wing beats that are readily heard on the ground at some distance from the source. Synchronization of group movements might reduce auditory masking through periods of relative silence and facilitate auditory grouping processes. Respiratory locomotor coupling and intermittent flight may be other means of reducing masking and improving hearing perception. A distinct border between ISOL and communicative signals is difficult to delineate. ISOL seems to be used by schooling fish as an aid to staying in formation and avoiding collisions. Bird and bat flocks may use ISOL in an analogous way. ISOL and interaction with animal perception, cognition, and synchronized behavior provide an interesting area for future study.

  • 2.
    Larsson, Matz
    Örebro University Hospital. The Cardiology Clinic, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden; The Respiratory Clinic, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden; Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Self-generated sounds of locomotion and ventilation and the evolution of human rhythmic abilities2014In: Animal Cognition, ISSN 1435-9448, E-ISSN 1435-9456, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 1-14Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It has been suggested that the basic building blocks of music mimic sounds of moving humans, and because the brain was primed to exploit such sounds, they eventually became incorporated in human culture. However, that raises further questions. Why do genetically close, culturally well-developed apes lack musical abilities? Did our switch to bipedalism influence the origins of music? Four hypotheses are raised: (1) Human locomotion and ventilation can mask critical sounds in the environment. (2) Synchronization of locomotion reduces that problem. (3) Predictable sounds of locomotion may stimulate the evolution of synchronized behavior. (4) Bipedal gait and the associated sounds of locomotion influenced the evolution of human rhythmic abilities. Theoretical models and research data suggest that noise of locomotion and ventilation may mask critical auditory information. People often synchronize steps subconsciously. Human locomotion is likely to produce more predictable sounds than those of non-human primates. Predictable locomotion sounds may have improved our capacity of entrainment to external rhythms and to feel the beat in music. A sense of rhythm could aid the brain in distinguishing among sounds arising from discrete sources and also help individuals to synchronize their movements with one another. Synchronization of group movement may improve perception by providing periods of relative silence and by facilitating auditory processing. The adaptive value of such skills to early ancestors may have been keener detection of prey or stalkers and enhanced communication. Bipedal walking may have influenced the development of entrainment in humans and thereby the evolution of rhythmic abilities.

  • 3.
    Larsson, Matz
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. Örebro University Hospital. The Cardiology-Lung Clinic, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden; Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Tool-use-associated sound in the evolution of language2015In: Animal Cognition, ISSN 1435-9448, E-ISSN 1435-9456, Vol. 18, no 5, p. 993-1005Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Proponents of the motor theory of language evolution have primarily focused on the visual domain and communication through observation of movements. In the present paper, it is hypothesized that the production and perception of sound, particularly of incidental sound of locomotion (ISOL) and tool-use sound (TUS), also contributed. Human bipedalism resulted in rhythmic and more predictable ISOL. It has been proposed that this stimulated the evolution of musical abilities, auditory working memory, and abilities to produce complex vocalizations and to mimic natural sounds. Since the human brain proficiently extracts information about objects and events from the sounds they produce, TUS, and mimicry of TUS, might have achieved an iconic function. The prevalence of sound symbolism in many extant languages supports this idea. Self-produced TUS activates multimodal brain processing (motor neurons, hearing, proprioception, touch, vision), and TUS stimulates primate audiovisual mirror neurons, which is likely to stimulate the development of association chains. Tool use and auditory gestures involve motor processing of the forelimbs, which is associated with the evolution of vertebrate vocal communication. The production, perception, and mimicry of TUS may have resulted in a limited number of vocalizations or protowords that were associated with tool use. A new way to communicate about tools, especially when out of sight, would have had selective advantage. A gradual change in acoustic properties and/or meaning could have resulted in arbitrariness and an expanded repertoire of words. Humans have been increasingly exposed to TUS over millions of years, coinciding with the period during which spoken language evolved. ISOL and tool-use-related sound are worth further exploration.

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