ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
EYE CARE, VISION
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
FITNESS
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Less Education May Mean Poorer Health
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
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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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