Rats bop their heads to musical beats just like humans do, according to research published recently in Science Advances.
Researchers played for both rats and humans one-minute cuts of songs from Lady Gaga (“Born This Way”), Queen (“Another One Bites the Dust”), Mozart (“K.448”), Michael Jackson (“Beat It”) and Maroon 5 (“Sugar”) and found that rats and people both preferred 120 to 140 beats per minute.
Scientists assumed rats, with different heartbeats and body sizes, would like a faster beat, but tests — which included attaching accelerometers to measure rat head movements — showed rats and humans bopping their heads at essentially the same rates.
“Rats displayed innate — that is, without any training or prior exposure to music — beat synchronization most distinctly within 120-140 bpm (beats per minute), to which humans also exhibit the clearest beat synchronization,” Associate Professor Hirokazu Takahashi from the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Information Science and Technology said in a news release.
“The auditory cortex, the region of our brain that processes sound, was also tuned to 120-140 bpm, which we were able to explain using our mathematical model of brain adaptation,” Takahashi said.
While rats and humans bopped their heads at a similar rate, head movements decreased when music was sped up, researchers discovered.
Science XP posted a YouTube video of rat and human reactions to music at various speeds.
“Music exerts a strong appeal to the brain and has profound effects on emotion and cognition,” Takahashi said in the November news release.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on innate beat synchronization in animals that was not achieved through training or musical exposure.”
But there may be earlier evidence of what Takahashi was saying.
Snowball the cockatoo, who achieved internet fame years ago for his distinctive dance moves, also has been under study by scientists.
They determined he has 14 distinctive dance moves, according to a YouTube video posted by The Guardian.
And his moves are clearer and more entertaining than those of rats.
While God has implanted certain dimensions of intelligence and problem-solving ability in animals, it looks as if rats and Snowball are saying they may be attuned to music, too.
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