ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Know Your Asthma Triggers
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
CANCER
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
CAREGIVING
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
The Unmedicated Mind
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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Birds Don't Miss a Beat

TUESDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Birds can tap their feet, sway their bodies and bob their heads in time with a musical beat, say two new studies that suggest the ability to feel the rhythm may be linked to another shared trait between humans and birds -- vocal training and mimicry.

"For a long time, people have thought that the ability to move to a beat was unique to humans," Adena Schachner of Harvard University, leader of the one of the studies, said in a Cell Press news release.

"After all, there is no convincing evidence that our closest relatives, chimpanzees and other apes, can keep a beat, and there is similarly no evidence that our pet dogs and cats can line up their actions with a musical beat, in spite of extensive experience with humans. In this work, however, we found that entrainment [to music] is not uniquely human; we find strong evidence for it in birds, specifically in parrots."

In their study, Schachner and colleagues reviewed more than 1,000 videos of dancing animals and determined that only vocal mimics -- including 14 parrot species and one species of elephant -- showed evidence of truly being able to move their bodies in rhythm with music.

In the other study, Aniruddh Patel, of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, and colleagues found that a cockatoo adjusted the tempo of his dancing to stay synchronized to the beat of music as it was sped up or slowed down.

The findings of these studies support the theory that being able to move in time to a musical beat relies on the neural circuitry for complex vocal learning, which requires a strong connection between auditory and motor circuits in the brain.

The research may also offer new insight into why humans make and enjoy music, which is regarded as an evolutionary puzzle.

"Although many theories have been proposed, little empirical evidence speaks to the issue. In particular, debate continues over the idea that the human music capacity was not selected for directly, but arose as the byproduct of other cognitive mechanisms," Schachner and colleagues wrote.

"By supporting the idea that entrainment emerged as a byproduct of vocal mimicry in avian species, the current findings lend plausibility to the idea that the human entrainment capacity evolved as a byproduct of our capacity for vocal mimicry," they added.

The studies were published online in the journal Current Biology.

More information

For more on the unique abilities of some bird species, visit PBS.



-- Robert Preidt



SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, April 30, 2009

Last Updated: May 12, 2009

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