It's Science Friday, and what better way to end the week than with a musical interlude--musical research interlude, that is. Today in Science's online news service, ScienceNOW, I report on a study that suggests the ability to detect emotional expression in musical pieces is universal. That's Thomas Fritz of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany in the photo. He is playing happy, sad, and scary music (by Western standards) to the Mafa people, an isolated ethnic group in the Cameroon many of whom have never heard a radio or listened to Western music in any way. They still do pretty well detecting what emotions are being expressed. The study supports the idea that music is the result of Darwininan evolution, perhaps because it helped cement group solidarity or improved our ability to communicate emotional states.
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Photo credit: Thomas Fritz.