Want to kick the habit? Play Some Music (Matings Part 5)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1), Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2), Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3) and Sing Me to Sleep That I Might Learn Thee Loves Me (Matings Part 4)]]

If you’ve following my last few posts you know I’ve been studying how sounds affect people. This is known as psychophysics and more directly, psycho-acoustics. It’s fascinating stuff.

For example, did you know that the parts of the brain that respond to music are involved in the response mechanisms to addictive substances and behaviors?

The evidence comes from various brain-scanning technologies (PET, fMRI, etc) and targeted drug therapies.

And it gets a little better, too. Not only abuse drugs, but it seems these neuronal circuits also are involved in our enjoyment of food and sex.

Food, sex and music.

Reminds me of Yasgur’s Farm.

Seriously, there’s a reason responses to food, sex, abuse drugs and music all occur in similar brain areas.

Imagine yourself as an amoeba in the primordial slime a few billion years ago. There were only two things you really wanted to do; eat and replicate. In fact, there wasn’t much about your primitive biology that was geared to doing anything else. Not only your primitive biology but the primitive biologies of every other living organism that was going to survive, eating and replicating were extremely important, and because they were you and your kind survived.

A few million years go by. Your multi-cellular. You might even be swimming in some ocean and getting ready to traipse across some land. There’s really only two reasons you’d want to do that. First, there might be food. Second, there might be someone cute.

Food and sex still rule.

Many million more years go by. Many, many. You’re walking around on the land now and you might still be swimming. You might be flying or gliding. In all cases, your mobility is a function of your need to eat — find food — and reproduce — find yourself a cutie. These two functions have taken on such importance to both your and your species’ survival that your brain has started to do things to get your attention when you eat or mate. It started to develop some reward circuitry and about the only time it fires is when you’re doing things that directly insure both your and your species’ survival.

Food and sex again. Only now we’re getting rewarded in new ways for our efforts.

Lots more millions of years go by. You’ve done well. There are so many of your species now that in order to reproduce you have to demonstrate that you’re better than your peers. How might you do that? Evolution comes up with a way. Originally your flopping around or flapping your wings or clapping your flippers happened by accident but it still made potential mates look your way rather than at your peers. Given eons those accidental sounds became intentional mating calls, tweets, splashes and flaps.

Then we started adding rhythms so that potential mates would be able to pick our grunts and groans out of the crowd.

Then we started howling and calling. That’s how music was born.

And the ones of us who made the best music got the most reward.

It’s those reward circuits that drugs of abuse fire. The same ones that got us standing up on our hind legs and reading these words rather than dying off millenia ago.

Knowing their origins, it’s not odd at all that food, sex, abuse drugs and music go together, is it?

So if you really want to kick the habit, learn to play some music. Food, sex and drugs are sometimes recognized as addictional vectors in our society. Not so with music. Not yet.


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Sing Me to Sleep That I Might Learn Thee Loves Me (Matings Part 4)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1), Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2) and Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3)]]

I wrote about how the sounds we make affect our mating potentials in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1) and Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3). Those posts dealt with how women and men respond to the sounds their partners make. This post deals with a time the sounds we make are extremely important; when we’re with our children.

Mothers around the world sing or hum their children to sleep. Fathers around the world may not sing and often, when a mother or mother surrogate isn’t available, will hum, coo or otherwise vocalize to their children when it’s time to nap (and if they do sing, excellent!).

Those young minds are both amorphous and agile. Just because their eyes are closed don’t think they’re not listening…and learning.

Babes’ and young children’s brains are basically information gathering engines. Very little goes unnoticed by them and what they record is amazing in both scope and quality. They may not recognize what they record — sights, sounds, tastes, scents, touches, emotions, thoughts, … — as we do and record it never-the-less they do.

Examples of this type of recording and learning are cultural specific foods. Have you ever heard of comfort foods? Comfort foods are things we eat when we need solace, love, attention, caring, concern, …basically when we want to return to the womb to regroup. We seek out and eat the things mom and dad, grandma and grandpa gave us when we bruised our knee or lost a toy. This goes well beyond chocolate and such. Comfort foods are amazingly culture specific.

In my case, comfort foods include hot capocollo, soppresetta, spaghetti sauces that make your eyes water as they cook because they’re so spicy, … things my darling wife wouldn’t let past her lips. She, on the other hand, has the audacity to seek out things like liverwurst (oy!), sauerbraten (ok, I guess), sauerkraut (I’ve learned to live with it) and the like. Both are culture specific, both are comfort foods.

Much like foods, the sounds we hear as we go to sleep — especially when we’re children — create neural pathways that science is just beginning to figure out. It’s been known for a while that natural sleep helps us organize and systematize our memories. One new study indicates it also helps us learn to control our movements.

Our movements? In our sleep? When someone is singing?

Yes. Have you ever twitched while falling asleep, perhaps whacking your hand on the nightstand or kicking off the covers? Those twitches are called jactitations. Usually minor and often amusing, they can also be indications of more severe pathologies.

Jactitations occur when the conscious and non-conscious parts of the mind are handing over control from one to another. The brain knows not to let the body walk when we dream we’re walking, but sometimes the brain isn’t sure and we kick our legs once or twice.

In children, this is neuro- and sensori-motor practice. Our dogs and cats chase rabbits and sparrows in their sleep, twitching, sometimes woofing and meowing away. It’s much the same thing.

And it turns out singing, humming, cooing and vocalizing to our children (probably our pets, too), helps their brains learn how to control muscle movement. It allows for better mind-body integration and physical coordination. I don’t think anybody is exactly sure why just yet and there is evidence it is so.

The thing to remember is that it’s not talking (as in “conversation”), it’s non-verbal sounds. Talking (as noted in previous posts) uses different parts of the brain than does singing, cooing, etc. I’m willing to bet children’s brains are building pathways to match those adults have when they sing and such.

That’s real learning and yes, it would help in mind-body integration and physical coordination.

Sing a little song to your children as you lay them down to nap, moms and dads. It’ll let them know you love them, yes, and you’ll also be helping them later in life by preparing their brains and bodies to harmonize.

(budda-bum)


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Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1) and Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2)]]

I wrote about the importance of sound in the mating game in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1). That post dealt with how women could determine if a potential partner was going to work out based on the sound of their voice.

It turns out the same is true for men, although it takes a slightly different turn. It’s not so much the sound of their voice, it’s whether or not they sing. Or hum. I think laughter qualifies, too.

It turns out that part of the male’s mental wiring is to determine life-partner value and worth by sound. This happens all the time in the animal world. Everything from mosquitoes to elephants hum, sing or otherwise make sounds that attract each other. TV documentaries tend to focus on the mating calls of the males and it also true that males are drawn to the mating sounds of females.

How do humans do it?

Men like to hear their partners laugh, sing, hum…forgive the possible stereotype, but anything but talk. Talking involves different parts of the brain and we use our voices differently when we talk than when we vocalize in any other way.

Although there’s no evidence for this at present and what I write here is my personal opinion, I wonder if the reason males are attracted to the sounds of laughter, singing and humming has to do with when they were babes in their mothers’ arms. Most mothers (and this is cross-cultural) make very distinct laughing, singing and humming sounds with their children, not talking (as in “conversation”) with them until the child is ambulatory (meaning “they can get around on their own. You don’t need to carry them everywhere”).

So much for my opinion.

So guys, does your potential partner sing or hum or laugh (and not just at your jokes). And do you like it? Even better, does his or her voice sound like music to your ears? Congrats, you’ve got a keeper.


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Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1)]]

Anybody remember those first school dances you went to? The boys lined up on one wall, the girls on the other? And remember that the boys gathered in groups of maybe 2-3 and the girls in groups of 5 or more?

What you’re observing is a proto-typical gender behavior bias. That’s a 25¢ way of saying men and women behave differently. Kind of like noticing that wolves go after the most vulnerable member of a herd or that the bull elk challenges all competitors to his harem. It’s all obvious when you know what you’re looking at.

For example, somewhere up around the 4m45s mark in my iMedia presentation on Gender Specific Marketing Discoveries, I comment on the fact that men sat singularly or in groups of 1-3 on one side of the room and the women clustered in noticeably larger groups on the other side of the room. A solitary male is the usual case with males over 30 yo (they tend to have more confidence whether they should or not).

[[you can hear the podcast here. They screw up my name. That’s why I now tell people my last name is pronounced Smith]]

What it all comes down to sex on the beach.

Male Demonstrations of SuperiorityHumans, despite what some might like to think, carry in their genes all the behaviors that helped us climb from the primordial muck to where we are today. Everything that worked is in there. One of the things that worked for males was separating themselves from other males so that females could individualize them, get a better look at them, could evaluate them better, get a good fix on their potentials as mates and providers.

In short, males establish territories. Those nature documentaries about seals on the beach have it correct. It’s amusing to watch several million years of evolutionary wiring go into conflict with a few thousand years of human civilization, especially when you recognize that much of what we call “civilization” is designed to deal with all that nasty evolutionary wiring.

Anthropologists recognize ceremonies and rituals. The ceremonies rarely change because they define us as a species. The rituals constantly change because they define us as a group, a tribe, a family, a religion, a sect, a nationality, a people.

You’ve probably heard the term “mating ritual”. That first, awkward school dance is a mating ritual. It’s purpose is for kids to have fun, yes, and also to have them learn how to evaluate members of the opposite sex, also known as partner selection and is a mating ritual in disguise. That school dance is an example of socially acceptable behavior meeting evolutionary wiring big time. Another example of the difference between ceremony and ritual is marriage. The ritual of marriage varies from culture to culture but the ceremony of marriage — the “this-person-that-person” thing — is pretty well established in our species.

What’s more interesting is observing the individuals who’ve made accommodations so that their evolutionary wiring and social training work hand in hand, or don’t.

For example, an adult male who always seeks the company of his male peers probably won’t be a good choice for mate or provider. An adult male who is comfortable by himself and will spend time with male peers is better. An adult male who can be by himself in a social setting (a bar, a dance, a beach), who intentionally catches your eye without intruding on what you’re doing and quickly (but graciously) acknowledges your interest or lack thereof? Learn his name. He’s probably worth it.

Men, what about women who traverse social training and evolutionary wiring? Interestingly enough the same rules apply. If they’re comfortable with themselves, recognize social signals as they are intended and don’t dispute them, ask for their name. Talk and do remember to listen. They probably have a lot to tell you.


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I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1)

[[Spring must be in the air…at least in the northern hemisphere…because we received eleven (11!) requests for mating advice (selection, attraction, attachment, recognition, adornment, …) in the past few days. That’s a bit of a record for us. I think it’s due to the longevity of our (Susan and my) relationship (and it took lots of work).

Anyway, I sent people copies of blog posts I wrote a while ago when this blog was on another platform. We’re resurrecting them here – there’s seven total – one per day over the next week or so and just in case there’s other folks out there looking for love in all sorts of places.

Enjoy!]]

Ladies, do you enjoy hearing your partner talk? Sing? Hum?

There’s something to be said for whether you do or don’t. You do: chances are you’ve found your life long mate. You don’t: chances are your relationship won’t last much more than…well…than a few matings if that long.

It seems that females are more sensitive to their “family” sounds than males are (generally speaking, of course). The best example of this is the mother who can hear and isolate her child’s cry of distress amongst all the sounds of all the activity of a public playground.

Well, this auditory sensitivity extends to life-partners and would-be life-partners, too. Women tend to bond more closely with males whose voices are a natural harmonic of their own.

Natural harmonic?

Can you imitate your partner’s voice really well? Not just the way they talk or the words they use, but the actual tone of their voice? Can they do the same with yours? Congratulations, your voices are probably natural harmonics of each other. You may not be exactly an octave apart (musically speaking) and chances are you’re either close or a multiple of it or some musical interval of it (a third, a fifth, a seventh, no diminished chords, no augmented chords, et cetera).

There are lots of reasons this sensitivity leads to long term relationships; hearing our own “voice” makes us comfortable and puts us at ease, it demonstrates acceptance by the group, things like that. The cognitive and sociologic factors are numerous, really, and seem to play across cultures.

So the next time you’re in a meeting and you find yourself mildly interested or a little attracted to someone speaking, listen carefully…you probably are, anyway.


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