Rats bop to the beat of music just like humans, according to new research from the University of Tokyo. Until now, beat synchronicity, the ability to recognise a song’s rhythm, was thought uniquely human.
In the study, rats were played music at increasing speed whilst accelerometers measured movement. The results showed the rats moving their heads in time with the music and, just like their human counterparts, the optimal beat was around 120 bpm, suggesting a rat’s auditory cortex works in ways similar to a human.
This research could help understand why humans and rats enjoy listening to music. “Next, I would like to reveal how other musical properties such as melody and harmony relate to the dynamics of the brain”, says Hirokazu Takahashi, one of the paper’s authors.