As if the sight of a rat was not repulsive enough, a new study has found that these invasive pests can actually dance.
Imagine encountering a gang of rats doing the electric slide in the middle of a busy New York City block. While the visualization may be slightly overdramatized, a new study conducted by the University of Tokyo discovered that these creatures have rhythm and moved their heads in sync with beats when researchers played music for them. The rodents did so without “any training or prior exposure to music-beat synchronization.”
The study examined ten rats and twenty humans. Each participant was fitted with wireless accelerometers, which measured head movements. Over a three-day period, the rats were played five different pieces of music, with a focus on Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K. 448).” Researchers played minute-long excerpts at different speeds, and the rats displayed the most precise beat synchronization when the song was played between 120 and 140 bpm. In addition to classical music, scientists also played “Beat It” by Michael Jackson and “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga.
The study’s co-author Hirokazu Takahashi wrote in the Science Advances published report that this was previously a bodily function believed to be exclusive to humans. The experiment was birthed by experts wanting to explore the emotional and cognitive responses attached to tunes. Takahashi says he wants to understand how music can help everyone live an overall better life.
In other words, dancing rats are the key to unlocking the healing properties of our favorite hits.