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Miani, A. (2016). The impact of sex and menstrual cycle on rhythmic synchronization: An experimental approach. Unpublished Thesis Masters, Århus Universitet, Denmark.
Added by: Mark Grimshaw (01 Feb 2017 09:37:09 Europe/Copenhagen) Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw (13 Mar 2017 19:46:24 Europe/Copenhagen)
|Resource type: Thesis/Dissertation
BibTeX citation key: Miani2016
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Keywords: Oxytocin, Sex, Singing
Creators: Fusaroli, Miani, Mitkidis
Publisher: Århus Universitet (Denmark)
Views index: 100%
Popularity index: 62.5%
"Music is a remarkable universal human-unique trait based on a special genetic and neu-
roanatomical infrastructure, shared among vocal learners, that links auditory inputs to
motor outputs via a sensorimotor feedback. This neural conguration is necessary for
rhythmic synchronization, a crucial feature of music that fosters aliation and positive
aects. As a social glue, music is associated with an increased oxytocin and reduced testos-
terone and cortisol, an endocrine prole linked to parental care. Based on the physiological
oxytocinergic loop extended to sociality, music is grounded on cooperation and aliation.
Hence, its power. Yet, how did music propagate? Sexual selection is a prominent theory,
claiming that music evolved as an honest signal of cognitive, motor, and cooperative skills,
thus an index of good genes positively valued by females.
To empirically test sexual selection, and a possible musical division of labor, an experiment
was run. The hypothesis was based on the evidence that a) the basal ganglia is a pivotal
brain structure in rhythm synchronization which contains vasopressin (AVP) receptors; b)
AVP is a neuropeptide similar to oxytocin abundant in males and related to music, dance,
and courtship phenotypes; c) AVP peaks in women during ovulation, the most fertile period
of the menstrual cycle, in which courtship receptivity reaches the maximum point.
Fifteen subjects (8 men, 7 women) participated in a study that measured rhythmic skills
through a tapping task. It was predicted that rhythmic synchronization is better in men
than women, who perform at the best during ovulation. The hypothesis was conrmed: best
synchronization and less tapping variability was recorded for men while within women, ovu-
lation enhanced synchronization. Results point toward within- and between-sex dierences
in the core structure of music, rhythm, and highlight two aspects of the sexual selection
theory: a) within-sex dierences suggest that synchronization is a means for alignment
during courtship displays; b) between-sex dierences shed light on how cooperation and
In courtship displays, synchronization is a partner test to assess compatibility. Coordi-
nating in joint activities increases aliation and positive feelings. By music, cooperation
and trust spread in the human lineage via a selection against aggression, viz., neoteny. By
reiteration, this inevitably led to a reduced sexual dimorphism and increased paternal care
in our lineage, which are associated with reduced testosterone and increased oxytocin, the
endocrine responses to music.
In conclusion, through the extension of the oxytocin loop from physiology to the social
realm, music extended trust and cooperation from blood relationships to peer relationships,
allowing the emergence of a novel courtship display based on a cooperative competition."