A new study of 120 infants under the age of 2-years-old shows that they respond more to the rhythm and tempo of music than they do to speech.

The researchers studied the children while music was playing to see how their movements matched the music – from moving their arms, legs, hands, bodies and feet.

Marcel Zentner, a researcher at the University of York psychologist in England, said, “Our research suggests that it is the beat rather than other features of the music, such as the melody, that produces the response in infants. We also found that the better the children were able to synchronize their movements with the music, the more they smiled.”

You can read the research study, which was published in the March 15th issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.