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Rate of infant carrying impacts infant spontaneous motor tempo.

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Southgate, Victoria 


Rhythm production is a critical component of human interaction, not least forming the basis of our musicality. Infants demonstrate a spontaneous motor tempo (SMT), or natural rate of rhythmic movement. Here, we ask whether infant SMT is influenced by the rate of locomotion infants experience when being carried. Ten-month-old, non-walking infants were tested using a free drumming procedure before and after 10 min of being carried by an experimenter walking at a slower (98 BPM) or faster (138 BPM) than average tempo. We find that infant SMT is differentially impacted by carrying experience dependent on the tempo at which they were carried: infants in the slow-walked group exhibited a slower SMT from pre-test to post-test, while infants in the fast-walked group showed a faster SMT from pre-test to post-test. Heart rate data suggest that this effect is not due to a general change in the state of arousal. We argue that being carried during caregiver locomotion is a predominant experience for infants throughout the first years of life, and as a source of regular, vestibular, information, may at least partially form the basis of their sense of rhythm.


Funder: Economic and Social Research Council; Id:


development, infants, locomotion, rhythm, spontaneous motor tempo

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R Soc Open Sci

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The Royal Society