Humans aren’t the only animals known to move to the beat of music.
Parrots, for example, do the same.Rats have now been observed shake your head Synced to the music of Mozart, Lady Gaga, Queen, and more, researchers reported on Nov. 11 at scientific progress.
What’s more, the animals seem to respond to the rhythm of human footsteps. The research may help shed light on the evolutionary basis of the human sense of rhythm.
“Some of us think music is very special to human culture. But I believe its origin is somehow inherited from our ancestors,” says Hirokazu Takahashi, a mechanical engineer at the University of Tokyo who studies how the brain works .
The ability to recognize the beat of a song and synchronize body movements to it is called beat sync.Why do some species, such as humans and ParrotTalented and others not (SN: 4/30/09).
For laboratory mice, Takahashi and his colleagues played Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major” (K. 448). The team sped up and slowed down the tempo and played it back at normal speed, observing the mice’s movements not only visually, but also through wireless accelerometers surgically placed on the mice.
The team initially thought that body size might determine the rhythm that triggers any head bobbing. The researchers speculate that humans prefer tapping their feet to music at 120 to 140 beats per minute, but small animals like mice may need a faster tempo to respond in the same way.
“There are many reasons to think that maybe [rats] Prefer a faster pace. But that’s not what they found. It’s interesting,” says Aniruddh Patel, a psychologist at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study. He studies music cognition, or the mental processes involved in perceiving and responding to music.
In the video recordings, the rats’ head bobbing was more pronounced when the sonata was played at the usual speed (about 132 beats per minute). So did 20 people who listened through headphones with accelerometers.
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For both humans and mice, the head bobbing rate was consistently around 120 to 140 bpm. When the music is played faster or slower, there is no head bouncing. This suggests that there is some rationale for how animal brains are tuned, or wired, in response to rhythms, Takahashi said.
The team also played some of their favorite pop songs to the mice, including Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” and saw similar reactions.
While Patel agrees that rats seem to prefer beats that humans prefer, he doesn’t believe rats can synchronize to beats in the same way that humans do.
“I think, in a sense, this study actually raises more questions than it answers,” Patel said. Humans and parrots display beat synchrony through large, voluntary movements such as head bobbing, dancing, or kicking. The mice exhibit very small movements that need to be captured with special equipment such as head-mounted accelerometers and motion capture technology.
The behavior was also easier to observe when the researchers enticed the mice to stand on their hind legs by holding the water bottle up higher than when they were on all fours.
“The fundamental nature of beat perception and synchronization is that you can predict the timing of the beat and move predictably,” he said. “So, we’re just catching up or a little bit ahead.” Because the rats’ movements are so tiny, it’s not clear whether the rats can predict the beat or if they’re just reacting to it.
Both Takahashi and Patel stress that the study does no showed that mice like to dance to human music. “Musical stimulation is very engaging to the brain,” Takahashi said. “But this is not evidence [that] They like or perceive music. “
Next, Takahashi hopes to learn what other aspects of music we can share with rodents and other animals. “I might want to reveal that other properties, such as melody and harmony, are also related to the dynamics of the brain.”