New research has found chimpanzees like listening to certain kinds of music.

The study, carried out by the American Psychological Association, found the primates liked slow tempo music from Africa and India, as opposed to western or Japanese music.

Stereos were placed near the chimpanzees’ outdoor enclosures and when African or Indian music was played, the primates spent significantly more time in areas where the tunes could be heard best.

Findings showed when Japanese music was played, the chimpanzees were more likely to be found in spots of the enclosure where it was more difficult or impossible to hear.

Study co-author Frans de Waal, of Emory University, said: “Our objective was not to find a preference for different cultures’ music. We used cultural music from Africa, India and Japan to pinpoint specific acoustic properties.

Past research has focused only on western music and not addressed the very different acoustic features of non-western music. While non-human primates have previously indicated a preference among music choices, they have consistently chosen silence over the types of music previously tested.”

Sixteen adult chimps in two groups took part in the experiment at the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre at Emory University.

Music was played for 40 minutes every morning over a 12-day period on a portable stereo. Another portable stereo not playing any music was located in a different spot near the enclosure to rule out behaviour that might be associated with an object, rather than the music.

Lead author Morgan Mingle, of Emory and Southwestern University in Austin, said: “Chimpanzees displaying a preference for music over silence is compelling evidence that our shared evolutionary histories may include favouring sounds outside of both humans’ and chimpanzees’ immediate survival cues.”

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