Rats are born with the ability to sway to the beat of music

Rats are born with the ability to sway to the beat of music

The ability to perceive, respond to, and predict the beat is also known as synchronicity, a uniquely human skill.

The response to the beat is related to the “clock”, or time constant, in the brain.

A recent study published in Science Advances found that untrained rats can move their heads to the beat of music, and that beat synchrony may be common among animals.

Scientists gave 20 human participants and 10 rats a miniature accelerometer that monitors head movement

Then they played excerpts from Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major at 75%, 100%, 200% and 400% of the original speed (132 beats per minute).

It was found that both rats and humans showed the clearest beat synchronization, bobbing their heads to the beat, when the number of beats per minute was between 120 and 140.

As the music accelerated, the degree of head bobbing decreased in both humans and rats.

The scientists thus concluded that the optimal rhythm of head bobbing to music is determined by the brain’s time constant (rather than the body’s time constant) –

This constant is very similar from species to species, and the optimal rhythm of swaying to music is similar in humans and rats.

The researchers say this is the first report of innate beat synchronization in animals.

This ability is not achieved through training, and their mathematical model suggests that it is related to short-term adaptations in the brain.

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