Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
Social & Behavioural Sciences
I am interested in studying why language and music have only emerged in humans and not in other animals. I tackle this issue using a variety of experimental techniques and populations that include human adults and infants, and non-human animals. Our studies have demonstrated that some of the building blocks of language learning are found in other animals. For example, we showed that rats extract prosodic information present in speech in a similar way human infants do (a study named one of the five best Ig Nobel prize-winning scientific papers). I am also interested in music, as another ability that might emerge from sensibilities already present in other species. We have shown uniquely-human consonance advantages not shared with other animals, have characterized the biological bases of beat perception and how they set the stage for human rhythmic abilities, and identified how our brains react to the violation of harmonic expectations.