Evolutionary relevance of music

Aapparently, humans are hard-wired to enjoy music. What is the evidence?

Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute, for example, have scanned musicians’ brains and found that the “chills” that they feel when they hear stirring passages of music result from activity in the same parts of the brain stimulated by food and sex.

If something happens, scientists should be — and they are — asking questions like ‘how’ and ‘why’, and offering their versions of possible answers. What might they be?

Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that music originated as a way for males to impress and attract females. Others see its roots in the relationship between mother and child. In a third hypothesis, music was a social adhesive, helping to forge common identity in early human communities.

But some people are not convinced that there is any evolutionary purpose at all.

… [A] few leading evolutionary psychologists argue that music has no adaptive purpose at all, but simply manages, as the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has written, to “tickle the sensitive spots” in areas of the brain that evolved for other purposes. In his 1997 book “How the Mind Works,” Pinker dubbed music “auditory cheesecake” …


5 thoughts on “Evolutionary relevance of music

  1. >asking questions like ‘how’ and ‘why’, and offering their versions of possible answers.

    Carnatic music is entirely devotional. It appears that this angle has not been considered.

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