Same as it ever was

A couple of months ago, Seed magazine ran a conversation between singer/songwriter David Byrne (of the Talking Heads) and cognitive music researcher Daniel Levitin. It's a really interesting mix of topics, and reading David Byrne's thoughts on ideas like mirror neurons and exaptation is pretty remarkable.

DB: So when you watch a performance, sports for example, you're not only watching somebody else do it. In a neurological kind of way, you're experiencing it.
DL:Yeah, exactly. And when you see a musician, especially if you're a musician yourself--
DB: --air guitar.
DL: Air guitar, right! And you can't turn it off -- it's without your conscious awareness. So mirror neurons seem to have played a very important role in the evolution of the species because we can learn by watching, rather than having to actually figure it out step-by-step.

I noticed that Levitin seemed to be doing more and more of the talking as the conversation went on, but he makes it a good introduction to some current thinking on the evolution of musical ability and cognition.