Though we’ve understood that rats love music ever since the Pied Piper Of Hamelin assembled a legendary conga line out of the little rodents in a centuries-old fairy tale, science has gone ahead and done folk knowledge one better. Rats, it turns out, are also natural dancers.
An ABC News article explains that University Of Tokyo researchers have determined that moving along to a music’s rhythm, which was “an ability previously thought to be uniquely human,” is also shared by rats. In a study led by Dr. Hirokazu Takahashi, 10 rats were “fitted with wireless accelerometers to measure their head movements” and played music ranging from Mozart’s “Sonata For Two Pianos In D Major” (K.448) to “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, and, in an unnecessarily inhumane move, Maroon 5's “Sugar.”
Dr. Takahashi observed that the rats “displayed innate—that is, without any training or prior exposure to music—beat synchronization,” moving their heads along to the beat as music played. Both the rats and the humans who took part in the study “jerked their heads to the beat in a similar rhythm” and were most in sync to music in the range of 120-140 beats per minute. (Unfortunately, video of what this interspecies dance troupe looked like in action hasn’t been made available.)
The researchers believe that this discovery could help lead to a better understanding of “the animal mind and the origins of music and dance” as well as further develop our understanding of the neural mechanisms that cause music to have such “profound effects on emotion and cognition.”
This all sounds well and good, but, having added this dance discovery to past revelations that rats are capable of driving little cars and playing video games, we’re eager to get them into Guitar Hero and filming A Night At The Roxbury parody clips between their studies, too.
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