Caren's Research

Caren's early interest and training in Singing and Special Needs, significantly informed her PhD Research practice. Having an initial background in Sculpture specialising in Audio Visual Media, Caren's research set down to design and develop an Audio Visual approach to Equine Therapy, thereby making it more accessible to a broader public body. Ultimately her research focussed on Rhythm and Beat Perception; an element characteristic to both Equine Motion and Music, and its effects on Child Development.

Rhythm and Beat Perception Synchronisation is the body's innate ability to move in sync to beat based rhythms. It can be achieved by physical or acoustical means and is noticeable at an early stage by babies and young toddlers who bob to music. The perception of beat based rhythms has been shown to stimulate performance, velocity, memory, attention and learning ability. This is evident daily; when we tap our feet in time to music or when the opening bars of a song stimulates the memory of the lyrics. Music consists of a series of beats and rhythms, played over time.

In order to perceive music, our brains must remain 'on-line' and requires a degree of Temporal Order Processing, so as to piece the various melodies together. This is much the same in a learning environment, where in order to follow teaching instruction (and learn new tasks), a child's brain must sequence information together. However, children with weak timing/rhythm skills or attention problems have great difficulty achieving this.

Rhythm-keeping ability is a simple skill, which can be taught and learned, encouraging children to process, sequence and pay attention to time based stimuli. In addition, many children experience difficulties in understanding social and emotional cues due to difficulties in interpreting tone/pitch. The perception of regular beat based rhythms stimulates areas of the brain involved in social and emotional behaviour. This, in turn, can affect behaviour and learning ability. Ultimately, by teaching children basic and fundamental skills through rhythm and beat based exercises, we can create a greater environment for self-development.