Humans have an ability that typically shows up before they are even able to walk. If you turn some music on and watch a young child, they will begin moving to the music. It seems as if we have the gift of rhythm from the very start.
For a long time, it was thought that rhythm and the ability to follow a musical beat were unique to humans. Researchers from the University of Tokyo, however, decided to check on the matter and they discovered something interesting.
Those researchers gathered some lab rats and began playing music for them. Some of the music they played included “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. The rats were also subjected to a Mozart piano sonata.
They decided to play some more music for the rats, so they reached out for some Michael Jackson and played “Beat It.” They also played “Sugar” by Maroon 5.
In the study, researcher Hirokazu Takahashi said: “Rats displayed innate – that is, without any training or prior exposure to music – beat synchronization.” He also spoke about the strong emotional and cognitive effects that music can have on the brain.
In order to get the rodents to bob their heads along with the music, they had to play the music at 132 beats per minute. If they sped the music up or slowed it down, the rhythmic ability of the rats seem to go away.
This was a little surprising to the researchers, as they considered the faster heartbeat and metabolism of the rat and thought they would respond to faster music. Accordign to ABC, however, that wasn’t the case.
If you were to see this for yourself, you might be somewhat amused because it looks very similar to a human bobbing their head up and down to the rhythm. Now that they made this discovery, they want to look further into why it happens.
According to ABC, Dr. Takahashi spoke about his interest in the subject, saying he wants to learn more about how the brain works in regard to art, music, science, technology, and religion. He also feels that this can be a step closer to developing the next-generation AI.
It’ll be interesting to see what further research on the subject brings!
You can see some rats dancing in the video below: