I Got Rhythm

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People bob their heads and tap their feet when following a beat from a song, which scientists describe as beat synchronicity.

While humans are naturally good at it, a research team found that rats can also follow a beat, Cosmos magazine reported.

In a new study, researchers attached an accelerometer to the heads of 10 rats and played them 60-second excerpts of Mozart’s ‘Sonata for Two Pianos’ in D major. The tune was played at four different tempos, including the normal speed of 132 beats per minute (BPM).

The team also conducted a similar experiment on human participants to see how each species would detect beats.

The findings showed that the 132 BPM version was the beat the rodents understood the most, and their beat synchronicity was clearest.

This came as a surprise for the scientists because rats are “faster” than humans in terms of heartbeat, breathing rate, and circulation time. They believed that rats would do better at speedier tempos.

Instead, the identical BPM result suggests that the speed is regulated by something called the brain’s ‘time constant,’ implying that our capacity to keep the beat has been conserved in both human and rat brain waves.

The study is another example of animals feeling rhythm: A previous paper spotted this behavior in cockatoos.

The authors noted that the findings can help scientists understand why music is important to humans – and animals, too.

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