ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
CAREGIVING
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Staying Slim Is Good for the Environment
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
EYE CARE, VISION
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
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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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