Musicality: Instinct or Acquired Skill?

Gary F. Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Is the human tendency toward musicality better thought of as the product of a specific, evolved instinct or an acquired skill? Developmental and evolutionary arguments are considered, along with issues of domain-specificity. The article also considers the question of why humans might be consistently and intensely drawn to music if musicality is not in fact the product of a specifically evolved instinct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-512
Number of pages15
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Cognitive development
  • Evolution
  • Innateness
  • Instinct
  • Music
  • Musicality
  • Skill learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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