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Turns out rats love dancing to 140 BPM too

Scientists found the rodents moved most enthusiastically to music between 120-140 BPM

  • 21 November 2022
Turns out rats love dancing to 140 BPM too

We all know about getting stuck in a rat race, but what about a rat rave?

Well nightclubs for rats might not be too far a stretch of the imagination after scientists found that when played music, rats could perceive the beat and nod their heads in time.

The study by the University of Tokyo, published in the Sciences Advances journal also found that similar to humans, they were more synchronised when the music played was between 120 and 140 BPM.

Devices fitted with accelerometers, the technology which detects movement in your phone, were placed on the rats head to study their reactions to the music.

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Scientists presented the rats with a diverse playlist of genres and tempos, listening to Mozart, Lady Gaga, Maroon Five, Michael Jackson and Queen.

In a statement, Hirokazu Takahashi, Associate Professor from the Graduate School of Information said: “Rats displayed innate – that is, without any training or prior exposure to music – beat synchronisation most distinctly within 120-140BPM, to which humans also exhibit the clearest beat synchronisation.

“Music exerts a strong appeal to the brain and has profound effects on emotion and cognition,” he continued. “To utilise music effectively we need to reveal the neural mechanism underlying this empirical fact.”

It had previously been thought that humans were the only species to feel the desire to bob heads and dance along to musical beats.

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“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,” Takahashi said, hinting that there was more research to be done.

“Next, I would like to reveal how other musical properties such as melody and harmony relate to the dynamics of the brain. I am interested in how, why and what mechanisms of the brain create human cultural fields such as fine art, music, science, technology and religion,” he continued.

“Also, as an engineer, I am interested in the use of music for a happy life.”

Isaac Muk is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

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