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The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music$
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Isabelle Peretz and Robert J. Zatorre

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198525202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198525202.001.0001

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Is Music an Evolutionary Adaptation?

Is Music an Evolutionary Adaptation?

(p.57) Chapter 5 Is Music an Evolutionary Adaptation?
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music

David Huron

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the basic arguments related to evolutionary claims for music. In particular, it describes the theory of evolution by natural selection. Before entertaining some possible evolutionary views of music's origins, first it considers two pertinent complicating points of views. One view is that music is a form of nonadaptive pleasure seeking (NAPS). A second view is that music is an evolutionary vestige. It then measures the adaptive value of music. Of the various proposals concerning a possible evolutionary origin for music, eight broad theories can be identified: mate selection, social cohesion, group effort, perceptual development, motor skill development, conflict reduction, safe time passing and transgenerational communication. There are four types of evidence considered in presenting a case for the evolutionary origins of music. Next, it reports some of the archaeological, anthropological, and ethological facts. Moreover, it explores some of the evolutionary arguments that have been advanced to account for the origins of language. The evidence on music and social bonding is shown. Furthermore, a discussion on music and social function, social bonding and hormones, oxytocin and the biology of social bonding, and mood regulation is provided.

Keywords:   music, evolutionary adaptation, theory of evolution, social bonding, social function, hormones, oxytocin, mood regulation

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