Babies are born to dance and they find the rhythm and tempo of music more engaging than speech, research has shown.
A study of infants aged from five months to two years suggests babies are pre-programmed to move rhythmically in response to music.
Psychologist Marcel Zentner, who led the University of York team, said: “Our research suggests that it is the beat rather than other features of the music, such as the melody, that produces the response in infants.
“We also found that the better the children were able to synchronise their movements with the music the more they smiled.
“It remains to be understood why humans have developed this particular predisposition.”
Infants listened to a variety of stimulating sounds including classical music, rhythmic beats and speech. Their spontaneous movements were recorded by video and 3D motion-capture technology so they could be compared.
The research was published yesterday in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.