Rats, like humans, instinctively move in rhythm when they hear music, according to a recent study from the University of Tokyo. Researchers have proven that the theory applies in any case to the music of Mozart, Queen and Lady Gaga.
What’s remarkable is that this innate natural trait has so far only been proven in humans and a handful of other animals, like cockatoos. The researchers published the results on Friday in Scientists progress.
According to lead researcher Hirokazu Takahashi, “Rats are innate to move when they hear a rhythmic beat, without any training and even though they have never been consciously exposed to music before.” That’s what he says in The Guardian.
In Tokyo, ten rats were fitted with tiny wireless meters that registered the slightest rhythmic movement. The researchers then played five pieces of music at different speeds to see if different responses followed. It turned out to be the case: the rats reacted to the tempo of the music every time.
Among the musical fragments were Sonata for two pianos in D major by Mozart, born like this by Lady Gaga and Another one biting the dust of the Queen. The experiment was also carried out with about twenty people.
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Music also has an effect on rats’ emotions
Rats seem to move their heads rhythmically in the same way humans do. According to the researchers, these results prove that the response to music is not completely learned culturally, but partly transmitted genetically.
“Music also seems to have a profound effect on their emotions in rats,” they explain. The next step is to find the exact neurological connection made in the head when hearing a rhythmic beat.
With more precise results, this knowledge could contribute to the use of music as therapy, by allowing certain songs or rhythms to generate an effect in the brain.
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