Rats Know a Good Beat When They Hear It

Medscape Staff

February 02, 2023

Rats recognize musical beats and can bop to the rhythm of music in a manner similar to humans, according to researchers at the University of Tokyo.

What to Know

  • The region of the human brain that processes sound is called the auditory cortex, and it is tuned to respond to an optimal tempo of 120 – 140 bpm for the clearest beat synchronization.

  • The speed at which the brain responds to sounds is similar across all species, but rats display humanlike music tendencies by responding specifically to a beat synchronization distinctly within 120 140 bpm range.

  • When played the same music, both rats and humans jerked their heads to the beat in a similar rhythm, responding in the same way when the music tempo either slowed or was sped up.

  • Beat tuning involves short-term adaptation in the auditory cortex of the brain. The highest beat prediction performance occurred when the time between the end of one stimulus and the start of another was 1000th of a second.

  • How well we can time our movement to music depends somewhat on innate genetic ability and the complex neural and motor processes that work together to enable us to naturally recognize the beat in a song, respond to it, or even predict it.

This is a summary of the article, "Spontaneous Beat Synchronization in Rats: Neural Dynamics and Motor Entrainment," published in Science Advances on November 10, 2022. The full article can be found on science.org.

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