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An Itsy Bitsy Audience: Infants’ responses to a live or recorded opera for babies

An Itsy Bitsy Audience: Infants’ responses to a live or recorded opera for babies

Session 2

Presenter Name:Haley Kragness

School/Affiliation:University of Toronto Scarborough

Co-Authors:Matthew Eitel, Faith Anantharajan, Aimee Gaudette, Bryna Berezowska, Laura Cirelli


Many of our most powerful musical experiences are those we share with others. Previous research has shown that live performances elicit more audience movement, more extreme physiological responses, and more emotional synchronization compared to recorded playbacks of the same performance. Both the live and social aspects likely contribute to special experience of live performances. Though musical performances for infants are growing in popularity, most research on infants’ responses to live music has focused on solitary caregiver-infant pairs. Here, we examined infants’ attention, rhythmic movements, and heart rate while watching an infant-directed “Baby Opera” performed by professional musicians. One group of infants (= ~50) was video recorded while watching a live performance in the McMaster LIVELab as members of an audience, and a second group of infants (= ~50) watched a recorded playback of the same performance in the same auditorium. A third group (N = ~50) watched a recorded playback of the performance in their own home. Research assistants annotated the infants’ responses to indicate when the infants were watching the performance, and heart rate was measured for a subset of the audience-member infants. Preliminary analyses indicate that infants watched the show least during the audience + recorded condition, and that the audience + live condition elicited longer bouts of attention than either recorded condition. Full results will shed light on the developmental origins of collective musical experiences. 

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