It turns out little rodents can be Little Monsters too.
A new study reveals that rats have the same ability to listen to music and move their head to the beat — just like humans do. Researchers at the University of Tokyo fitted laboratory rats with small, wireless accelerometers to track their head movements. As they listened to hits from the likes Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, the rodents, who were free to move about the arena, began to identify the timing of different beats, and bopping along to the tunes.
Some of the songs played included Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," Michael Jackson's "Beat It," Maroon 5's "Sugar," and Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." Each track was played twice. Beyond pop music, the researchers also played clips of classical music, namely Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448 at four different speeds.
The rats' innate beat synchronization abilities mirrored those of their human counterparts in the study, who were also fitted with accelerometers. As it turns out, rats and humans both bop their heads along to the same rhythm, with the clearest synchronization happening between 120 to 240 bpm. It's no surprise that the rats were found bopping along to "Born This Way," which is set at a steady 124 bpm.
Also remarkable in the study's findings is that animals possess this ability without training or prior exposure to music. Future studies will explore the natural origins of music and dancing, and the nature of auditory entertainment across species.
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