Musical Rats

A recent study by the University of Tokyo has found that rats have a taste for music.

A rat in a box while music is being played for it. The multi-colored dots represent the rats most common movement points.

The Telegraph

A rat in a box while music is being played for it. The multi-colored dots represent the rat’s most common movement points.

Jameson Kowalski, Columnist

Rats are one of the world’s most interesting creatures. Whether they are roaming around the New York sewers or spreading disease across Europe, rats are always up to something. Now researchers know that rats have a taste for music. A recent study at the University of Tokyo found that rats show a reaction to music.

Researchers noticed that rats are able to show an interest in music because of the speed at which their brains can process things. The time constant, the time it takes for the brain to react, of their brains is responsible for them being able to have a reaction, NPR stated. The scientists equipped 20 different rats with accelerometers, or microchips that track the rate of change in velocity. The hope of the study was to see how rats’ brains reacted to music and other sounds that they might hear in the wild. Before this, humans were thought to be the only ones who possessed this ability, but scientists were proven wrong.

USA Today reported that the rats were played songs by Mozart, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Queen, and Maroon 5. The music was able to get a reaction out of the rats, who bobbed their heads up and down while taking in the rhythm of the music. The accelerometers showed that the rats could understand beats up to 120 through 140 beats per minute. That number falls in the middle of the 40 to 300 beats per minute that humans can take in. Though funny, it has not yet been classified as instinctive and is just known as a reaction for now.

This recent discovery, while not totally confirmed yet, could change the way we see other animals. If it is true that rats do have a physical reaction to the music, then why couldn’t a dog or a cat? Uncovering this information could lead to new and more advanced studies on different animals to see if all animals, or at least mammals, react the same. From what is known at the moment, rats can show their enjoyment to music, whether it be purposeful or reactive.