Chimps can get rhythm just like humans, study shows

April 26, 2013

By RYOMA KOMIYAMA/ Staff Writer

Much like humans dancing to the beat, chimpanzees can swing to the rhythm just as well, according to researchers at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute.

Research fellow Yuko Hattori and colleagues found that a chimpanzee tapped a musical keyboard, spontaneously synchronizing her movement with an auditory rhythm.

Three chimpanzees, including a highly intelligent female named Ai, took part in the study.

Researchers trained them to strike the “do” key—the first on the musical scale—on the keyboard of an electronic piano by giving an apple as a reward for 30 taps.

The animals were left to set their own pace for hitting the key.

Next, the chimps listened to the “sol” sound—the fifth on the musical scale—at an interval of 0.6 second while they were striking the do key.

Researchers say they repeatedly confirmed that Ai tapped the do key at the same pace as the sol sound.

The chimps were not given an additional apple when they synchronized the tapping with the sol sound, so researchers say that the behavior can be considered spontaneous.

By RYOMA KOMIYAMA/ Staff Writer
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A chimpanzee taps a musical keyboard in rhythm. (Provided by Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University)

A chimpanzee taps a musical keyboard in rhythm. (Provided by Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University)

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  • A chimpanzee taps a musical keyboard in rhythm. (Provided by Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University)

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