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Genetic variants associated with the ability to move in sync with a musical rhythm
The transition in time to the rhythm is so automatic that people often don’t realize the wonderful coordination that our minds, minds, and bodies require.
said Rena Gordon, PhD, assistant professor in the department of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery and co-director of the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab.
Through a new study led by Vanderbilt Genetics Institute researchers in collaboration with 23andMe, a genomics and biotechnology company, Gordon and her colleagues have made an important discovery about the biological underpinnings of musical rhythm.
The study published in the journal The nature of human behavior, is the first genome-wide association study of a musical trait. Gordon and Leah Davis, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, both co-authors of the findings, along with Maria Niarshaw, PhD, research instructor in the Department of Medicine and first author of the paper, co-led a team of international collaborators in the new fundamental work toward understanding biology. Underlying how music relates to other health traits.
This study identified 69 genetic variants associated with tempo synchrony – the ability to move in synchrony with the tempo of music. Many variants are in or near genes involved in neural function and early brain development. “Rhythm is not just affected by one gene — it is affected by hundreds of genes,” Gordon said.
Additionally, the study found that beat orchestration shares some of the same genetic structure involved in circadian rhythms such as walking, breathing, and circadian patterns.
These new findings highlight how biology contributes to something as culturally unique and complex as music and highlight the links between rhythm and health. Importantly, the researchers note that genetics only explain some of the variance in rhythm skills and that environment certainly plays a large role. Studying the complexity of these potential genetic influences on musical traits is only now possible with very large numbers of people participating in this research.
In this case, the study used data from more than 600,000 research participants. From this data, the researchers were able to identify genetic alleles that differed according to the participants’ beat synchronization ability. 23andMe’s large research data set that includes millions of individuals who have agreed to participate provides a unique opportunity for researchers to pick up even small genetic cues, said David Hinds, PhD, research fellow and statistical geneticist at 23andMe.
These new findings represent a leap forward in the scientific understanding of the links between genomics and music.
“Musical tone processing has interesting links with other aspects of cognition including speech processing and plays a key role in the positive effect of music on some neurological disorders, including gait in Parkinson’s disease,” said Anirud de Patel, professor of psychology at Tufts University. . University, expert not involved in the study.
“Using such a large set of data allows researchers to find new insights into the biology and evolutionary foundations of music. While recent years have seen growth in neuroscience and development work on rhythm processing, the current study takes the biological study of beat processing to a new level,” Patel added.
Reference: Niarchou M, Gustavson DE, Sathirapongsasuti JF, et al. A genome-wide association study of musical rhythm synchronization demonstrates polygenicity. nat they behav. 2022: 1-18. dui: 10.1038 / s41562-022-01359-x
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