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SC Talk: Laura Cirelli, Psychology, U of T, “Dancing to Wheels on the Bus: The Social-emotional Context of Rhythm Perception and Production in Infancy”

October 13, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Speaker: Laura Cirelli, Psychology, U of T

Title: “Smiling and Dancing to Wheels on the Bus: The Social-emotion Context of Musical Engagement in Infancy”

Introducer and Host: Daphne Maurer

Abstract: Around the world, caregivers engage musically with their infants. These experiences not only capture infant attention, but also have important implications for emotion regulation and forge social bonds. My research explores the social-emotional implications of these early musical interactions, and the active role that infants play in their own musical upbringing. I will first describe how parental song can regulate infant emotions and mitigate infant distress, and the importance of song familiarity in these contexts. Familiar songs not only capture infant attention and shape socio-emotional responsiveness more effectively than unfamiliar songs, but they are also highly effective at generating early musical movements. Infants use musical movements with others and shared song knowledge as a cue for directing their prosocial behaviours and selecting certain social partners over others. Together, the research that I will present explores the early importance of song familiarity, how infants engage actively with music and dance, the social implications of moving to music with others, and how these proclivities set the stage for a lifetime of music appreciation.

Bio: I am an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the director of the TEMPO lab (timing, entrainment, & music perception). I completed my graduate work at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Laurel Trainor, and my postdoctoral work at U of T Mississauga with Dr. Sandra Trehub. My research focuses on how engaging in musical activities can be a social and an emotional experience for infants. I am specifically interested in how infants direct prosociality toward musical partners, and how infant directed singing can influence the parent-infant relationship. I am also interested in the development of rhythm perception, and the importance of auditory-motor integration in perceiving and engaging with music. I use behavioural and physiological methods (e.g. skin conductance, electroencephalography) to investigate the development of music perception and production.

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October 13, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


Daphne Maurer