Mice Learn Songs Like We Do

Males match pitches with each other: study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2012 9:36 AM CDT
Mice Learn Songs Like We Do
The next Elvis?   (Shutterstock)

That mouse terrorizing your kitchen could be the next Marvin Gaye. The creatures are capable of learning songs in a similar fashion to humans, a study finds—a rare capability among animals. Earlier research has established that male mice sing songs to woo females, at pitches that humans are incapable of hearing. Researchers in North Carolina found that pairs of male mice tend to match pitches with each other after being housed together, the BBC reports.

Vocal learning—the process in which animals adjust their own voices to match pitches they hear—is thought to be limited to a few animals including songbirds, dolphins, and lions. The North Carolina researchers suggest mice could be added to that list: Not only did they match pitches with nearby males, they also have the requisite brain circuitry. "In mice, we find that the pathways that are at least modulating these vocalizations are in the forebrain, in places where you actually find them in humans," says a scientist. Other researchers, however, remain skeptical. (More mice stories.)

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