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.
The investigating team initially thought that body size might determine the tempos that triggered any head bopping. Humans tend to prefer foot tapping to music that’s between 120 to 140 beats per minute, but a small animal like a rat would probably need a quicker tempo to get that same reaction, the researchers hypothesized. They were wrong. In the video recordings, the rats’ head bobbing was more pronounced when the sonata played at its usual tempo, around 132 beats per minute. The same was true for 20 people who listened through headphones with accelerometers. For both humans and rats, the head bopping was consistent at about 120 to 140 bpm. When the music was played faster or slower, then there was no head bopping. That suggests that there is something fundamental about how the animal brain is tuned or wired to respond to rhythm.
If any of you have pet rats at home, let us know if these test results can be replicated. In case you were wondering “We Will Rock You” by Queen is only 81 bpm. “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band is 124 bpm. …. just in case you were wondering about such things.