During the last decade, the use of experimental approaches on cultural evolution research has provided novel insights, and supported theoretical predictions, on the principles driving the evolution of human cultural systems. Laboratory simulations of language evolution showed how general-domain constraints on learning, in addition to pressures for language to be expressive, may be responsible for the emergence of linguistic structure. Languages change when culturally transmitted, adapting to fit, among all, the cognitive abilities of their users. As a result, they become regular and compressed, easier to acquire and reproduce. Although a similar theory has been recently extended to the musical domain, the empirical investigation in this field is still scarce. In addition, no study to our knowledge directly addressed the role of cognitive constraints in cultural transmission with neurophysiological investigation. In my thesis I addressed both these issues with a combination of behavioral and neurophysiological methods, in three experimental studies. In study 1 (Chapter 2), I examined the evolution of structural regularities in artificial melodic systems while they were being transmitted across individuals via coordination and alignment. To this purpose I used a new laboratory model of music transmission: the multi-generational signaling games (MGSGs), a variant of the signaling games. This model combines classical aspects of lab-based semiotic models of communication, coordination and interaction (horizontal transmission), with the vertical transmission across generations of the iterated learning model (vertical transmission). Here, two-person signaling games are organized in diffusion chains of several individuals (generations). In each game, the two players (a sender and a receiver) must agree on a common code - here a miniature system where melodic riffs refer to emotions. The receiver in one game becomes the sender in the next game, possibly retransmitting the code previously learned to another generation of participants, and so on to complete the diffusion chain. I observed the gradual evolution of several structures features of musical phrases over generations: proximity, continuity, symmetry, and melodic compression. Crucially, these features are found in most of musical cultures of the world. I argue that we tapped into universal processing mechanisms of structured sequence processing, possibly at work in the evolution of real music. In study 2 (Chapter 3), I explored the link between cultural adaptation and neural information processing. To this purpose, I combined behavioral and EEG study on 2 successive days. I show that the latency of the mismatch negativity (MMN) recorded in a pre-attentive auditory sequence processing task on day 1, predicts how well participants learn and transmit an artificial tone system with affective semantics in two signaling games on day 2. Notably, MMN latencies also predict which structural changes are introduced by participants into the artificial tone system. In study 3 (Chapter 4), I replicated and extended behavioral and neurophysiological findings on the temporal domain of music, with two independent experiments. In the first experiment, I used MGSGs as a laboratory model of cultural evolution of rhythmic equitone patterns referring to distinct emotions. As a result of transmission, rhythms developed a universal property of music structure, namely temporal regularity (or isochronicity). In the second experiment, I anchored this result with neural predictors. I showed that neural information processing capabilities of individuals, as measured with the MMN on day 1, can predict learning, transmission, and regularization of rhythmic patterns in signaling games on day 2. In agreement with study 2, I observe that MMN brain timing may reflect the efficiency of sensory systems to process auditory patterns. Functional differences in those systems, across individuals, may produce a different sensitivity to pressures for regularities in the cultural system. Finally, I argue that neural variability can be an important source of variability of cultural traits in a population. My work is the first to systematically describe the emergence of structural properties of melodic and rhythmic systems in the laboratory, using an explicit game-theoretic model of cultural transmission in which agents freely interact and exchange information. Critically, it provides the first demonstration that social learning, transmission, and cultural adaptation are constrained and driven by individual differences in the functional organization of sensory systems.
|Titolo:||Music adapting to the brain: From diffusion chains to neurophysiology|
|Data di pubblicazione:||9-feb-2017|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||8.1 PhD thesis|