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Rats can bop their heads to the beat

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Humans aren’t the only animals known to move to a musical beat.

For instance, parrots do it, too. And now rats have been observed bopping their heads in time with the music of Mozart, Lady Gaga, Queen and others, researchers report on November 11 in Science Advances.

What’s more, the animals seem to respond to the same tempos that get humans’ feet tapping. The study could help reveal the evolutionary foundations of humans’ sense of rhythm.

“Some of us believe that music is very special to human culture. But I believe that its origin is somehow inherited from our progenitors,” says Hirokazu Takahashi, a mechanical engineer at the University of Tokyo, who studies how the brain works.

The ability to recognize the beat of a song and synchronize the movements of one’s body to it is known as beat synchronization. It’s a mystery why some species, like humans and parrots, have the innate ability and others do not (SN: 4/30/09).

For rats in the lab, Takahashi and his colleagues put on Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major” (K. 448)….

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