Features

Understanding the Roots of Human Musicality
Understanding the Roots of Human Musicality
Catherine Offord | Mar 1, 2017
Researchers are using multiple methods to study the origins of humans’ capacity to process and produce music, and there’s no shortage of debate about the results.
Song Around the Animal Kingdom
Song Around the Animal Kingdom
The Scientist Staff | Mar 1, 2017
Diverse species are said to sing, but music is in the ear of the beholder.
Birds May Make Music, But They Lack Rhythm
Birds May Make Music, But They Lack Rhythm
Jenny Rood | Mar 1, 2017
Birdsong bears a striking resemblance to human music, but it’s not yet clear that birds interpret it that way.
Bats Sing Sort of Like Birds
Bats Sing Sort of Like Birds
Bob Grant | Mar 1, 2017
Some bat vocalizations resemble bird songs, though at higher frequencies, and as researchers unveil the behaviors’ neural underpinnings, the similarities may run even deeper.
Researchers Study Rodent Songs They Can’t Hear
Researchers Study Rodent Songs They Can’t Hear
Joshua A. Krisch | Mar 1, 2017
Mice and rats produce ultrasonic signals to attract mates.
Untangling the Social Webs in Frog Choruses
Untangling the Social Webs in Frog Choruses
Tracy Vence | Mar 1, 2017
Frogs and other anurans call to attract mates, and individuals must strive for their voices to be heard in the crowd.
From Cricket Choruses to <em>Drosophila</em> Calls
From Cricket Choruses to Drosophila Calls
Jef Akst | Mar 1, 2017
A handful of insect species communicate using auditory signals—sounds that researchers have dubbed “song.”
The Mystery of Whale Song
The Mystery of Whale Song
Kate Yandell | Mar 1, 2017
Structured whale songs are shared by group members and evolve over time, but the calls’ functions are still unclear.
Fish Use a Variety of Sounds to Communicate
Fish Use a Variety of Sounds to Communicate
Kerry Grens | Mar 1, 2017
Many fish species click, grunt, growl, grumble, or hum—but is it music?
Exploring the Mechanisms of Music Therapy
Exploring the Mechanisms of Music Therapy
Elizabeth Stegemöller | Mar 1, 2017
The principles of neuroplasticity may underlie the positive effects of music therapy in treating a diversity of diseases.

Contributors

Contributors
Contributors
Contributors
Meet some of the people featured in the March 2017 issue of The Scientist.

Editorial

Song of Ourselves
Song of Ourselves
Song of Ourselves
“Nature’s melodies” may be a human construct that says more about us than about the musicality of other animals.

Speaking of Science

Notable Science Quotes
Notable Science Quotes
Notable Science Quotes
Music, the future of American science, and more

Notebook

Musical Tastes: Nature or Nurture?
Musical Tastes: Nature or Nurture?
Musical Tastes: Nature or Nurture?
Studies of remote Amazonian villages reveal how culture influences our musical preferences.
Understanding the Connection Between Synesthesia and Absolute Pitch
Understanding the Connection Between Synesthesia and Absolute Pitch
Understanding the Connection Between Synesthesia and Absolute Pitch
Researchers investigate the unusual association of musical sounds with tastes or colors through the lens of another perceptual quirk.
Music Tailored to Animals’ Tastes
Music Tailored to Animals’ Tastes
Music Tailored to Animals’ Tastes
The evidence is equivocal on whether animals dig human songs, so scientists set out to make music that mimics their soundscapes.
Understanding Music Heard Through Cochlear Implants
Understanding Music Heard Through Cochlear Implants
Understanding Music Heard Through Cochlear Implants
Music sounds very different to cochlear implant users. Researchers are trying to improve the experience.

Critic at Large

Modus Operandi

Massively Parallel Perturbations
Massively Parallel Perturbations
Massively Parallel Perturbations
Scientists combine CRISPR gene editing with single-cell sequencing for genotype-phenotype screens.

The Literature

Birds Possess an Innate Vocal Signature Based on Silent Gaps
Birds Possess an Innate Vocal Signature Based on Silent Gaps
Birds Possess an Innate Vocal Signature Based on Silent Gaps
 Zebra finches reared by another species learn to sing their foster parents’ song with rhythms characteristic of their genetic background.
Rhythm Arises from Random Beats in a “Telephone” Game
Rhythm Arises from Random Beats in a “Telephone” Game
Rhythm Arises from Random Beats in a “Telephone” Game
An experiment in which people pass each other initially nonrhythmic drumming sequences reveals the human affinity for musical patterns.

Profile

Singing In the Brain
Singing In the Brain
Singing In the Brain
His first love was dance, but Erich Jarvis has long courted another love—understanding how the brain learns vocalization.

Scientist to Watch

John Iversen Explores our Perception of Musical Rhythm
John Iversen Explores our Perception of Musical Rhythm
John Iversen Explores our Perception of Musical Rhythm
At the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, the researcher studies the neurobiology of music perception.

Lab Tools

Careers

The Past and Present of Research Integrity in China
The Past and Present of Research Integrity in China
The Past and Present of Research Integrity in China
Several initiatives aim to improve research integrity in the country, but recent high-profile cases of misconduct highlight a lingering problem.

Reading Frames

How Bad Singing Landed Me in an MRI Machine
How Bad Singing Landed Me in an MRI Machine
How Bad Singing Landed Me in an MRI Machine
One author's journey through the science of his congenital amusia

Foundations

Newton’s Color Theory, ca. 1665
Newton’s Color Theory, ca. 1665
Newton’s Color Theory, ca. 1665
Newton’s rainbow forms the familiar ROYGBIV because he thought the range of visible colors should be analogous to the seven-note musical scale.