The rats also move in rhythm to the music

Are rats sensitive to music? Do they perceive the beats of a tempo and do they react to them? Researchers have demonstrated their synchronization with certain rhythms by conducting experiments on their behavior and observing neuronal activities in these rodents.

Humans aren’t the only ones who beat time when they listen to music: Rats do it too, though their movements are less noticeable, according to a Japanese study recently published last week in the journal Science Advances. Rats that had never been exposed to music showed innate synchronization to songs played at between 120 and 140 beats per minute, the same rhythmic frequency that humans typically respond to, according to researchers from the University of Tokyo.

Rat brains are designed to respond well to music “, even if their body does not move too much, Hirokazu Takahashi, a scientist who participated in this study, told AFP on Tuesday. That’s why Japanese researchers used accelerometers, sensors to measure micro-vibrations rodents.

Rats respond by being subjected to music and its rhythms. Would it then be an innate skill? © Ito et al. Science Advances (2022)

The hypothesis of the optimal tempo shared between species

We all think that music has magical powers, but we don’t know anything about its mechanisms, [donc] we wanted to find out what kind of sound connections appeal to the brain, without the influence of emotion or memory “, added again Hirokazu Takahashi.

The reactions of the rats were tested with several pieces including the Sonata for two pianos in D majorby Mozart, played on four different tempos, as well as pop songs like Born this Way by Lady Gaga, Another one bites the dust from the band Queen or beat it by Michael Jackson.

According to the Japanese researchers, the results of their study support the hypothesis of the existence of an “optimal tempo” for the synchronization of beats which would be common to many species. Another hypothesis considers that this optimal tempo varies from one species to another depending on many physiological factors such as size and weight.

Hirokazu Takahashi says he wants to explore in the future the effects of melodies and harmonies on the brain, beyond rhythms: ” If music acts on emotions, it would be really very interesting to be able to observe it on animals “.

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