DANCE DANCE EVOLUTION New research that tested moms and babies dancing around together suggests that feeling a beat helps wire babies' brains for rhythm.

As psychologist Laurel Trainor of Canada's McMaster University studied how babies perceive music, she noticed that parents hardly ever sing to them without bouncing or rocking or playing with their feet. She wondered if this was important developmentally.

Her research shows it is: Using multiple senses helps the brain learn about rhythm, Trainor reports in the journal Science.

"It's wiring the sensory system," she said. "That early experience that parents do naturally" is likely important for learning.

Trainor and a colleague tested 16 healthy 7-month-olds by having them listen to music (made by a snare drum and sticks) that had an ambiguous rhythm -- no accented beats. Mothers bounced half the infants on every second beat, in a march-like rhythm, and half on every third beat, in a waltz-like rhythm.

The researchers played the music again, this time with the beats accented in the march or the waltz pattern. The babies preferred the pattern that matched the way they had been bounced.

COINCIDENCE OF THE WEEK Prices for dozens of prescription painkillers have jumped by as much as 15 percent since Merck & Co. pulled Vioxx from the market last year, says Consumer Reports.

Thirty-six pain medicines, including Mobic, Motrin and Relafen, saw price increases after studies linked Vioxx to heart problems and led to its withdrawal in September, the publication stated. The report did not evaluate over-the-counter painkillers.

-- From News Services