Rats have a rhythm like humans and love music like Lady Gaga, Queen: Study

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Even rats can keep a rhythm.

Scientists have found that rats are able to perceive the rhythm of music and shake their heads in rhythm – an attribute previously thought to exist only in humans.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo played music to 10 rats, fitted with wireless accelerometers to measure their head movement, according to the study published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

Music included Born This Way by Lady Gaga, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, Beat It by Michael Jackson and Sugar by Maroon 5.

One-minute sections of the songs were played at four different speeds for the 10 rats and 20 human participants. The study found that rats and humans had the best beat synchronization in the range of 120 to 140 beats per minute.

The songs were played at four different speeds for rats and humans.
Science.org

Scientists in the experiment had hoped to determine whether small animals like rats would prefer a faster pace to humans, believing this would correlate with physical factors such as heart rate and body size. However, the study found that the rats preferred to beat close to 120 beats per minute, like humans.

“Rats displayed innately—that is, without any training or prior exposure to music—beat sync most distinctly between 120 and 140 bpm (beats per minute), at which humans also exhibit sync. clearest beat,” said Associate Professor Hirokazu Takahashi of the University. of Tokyo said in a press release.

The team also found that rats and humans moved their heats to the beat in a similar rhythm, and that the level of head shaking decreased as the music picked up speed.

rat
Researchers previously thought that humans and a few other animals could keep up.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of innate beat synchronization in animals that has not been achieved by training or musical exposure,” Takahashi said.

Project researchers said their discovery looked like a glimpse into the creation of music itself.

“Next, I would like to reveal how other musical properties such as melody and harmony relate to brain dynamics. I am also interested in how, why, and what brain mechanisms create human cultural domains such as fine arts, music, science, technology, and religion,” Takahashi said.

“I believe this question is the key to understanding how the brain works and developing next-generation AI (artificial intelligence). Also, as an engineer, I am interested in using music for a happy life.

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