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Rats have rhythm like humans and like Lady Gaga’s music, Study shows

Rats have rhythm like humans and like Lady Gaga's music, Study shows

A new study published Friday in the journal Science Advances shows that rats have rhythm like humans and like Lady Gaga’s music, among others.


Scientists at the University of Tokyo have found that rats are able to perceive the beat of music and equally bop their heads along to the rhythm, a characteristic previously thought to be present only in human beings.

The participants in the study were comprised of 20 human subjects and 10 rats. The scientists played music for 10 rats that were fitted with wireless accelerometers. This was done in order to measure their head movement.

Beat It by Michael Jackson, Sugar by Maroon 5, Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen and Born This Way by Lady Gaga were the songs that were played for the rats. At four distinct speeds, the minute-long sections of the songs were played for the 10 rats and 20 human subjects.



The outcome of the study showed that in the range of 120 to 140 bpm [beats per minute], both the rats and the human subjects had the best synchronization.

The purpose of the experiment was to determine whether small animals like rats would prefer a faster beat to humans. Also, scientists reasoned that this preference would correlate with physical characteristics like body size and heart rate. However, the study indicated that rats preferred beats that were close to 120 bpm, similar to humans.


In a press release, Hirokazu Takahashi, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo said, “Rats showed innate — that is, without any training or prior exposure to music — beat synchronization most distinctly within 120-140 bpm, to which humans also exhibit the clearest beat synchronization.”

The scientists also found that both the rats and the human subjects moved their heads to the beat in a similar rhythm. They equally discovered that the level of head jerking reduced as the music was sped up.

Takahashi said, “This is the first study on innate beat synchronization in animals that was not achieved through training or musical exposure,” adding that his team’s discovery feels like an insight into the creation of music itself.


Takahashi believes that understanding how other musical properties such as melody and harmony relate to the dynamics of the brain as well as why and what mechanisms of the brain create human cultural fields such as fine art, music, science, technology and religion is the key to understanding how the brain works and developing the next-generation AI.


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