Scientists: Mice Can ‘Sing’ In Tune With One Another

From CBS:

NEW ORLEANS (CBS Houston) – Scientists at Tulane University recently discovered that mice can match the pitch of their voices to blend with one another.

The findings came as something of a surprise to researchers, since mice were thought to be incapable of being able to change the pitch of their voices, The Telegraph reports.

“We are claiming that mice have limited versions of the brain and behavior traits for vocal learning that are found in humans for learning speech and in birds for learning song,” Dr. Erich Jarvis, who supervised the study, told The Telegraph.

Though matching pitch and voice modulation are newly discovered in mice, the concept of mice singing is not new. Male mice reportedly emit a noise referred to as a song that is used to attract potential mates.

Scientists reportedly observed two male mice matching the pitch of their songs to one another while they were put in the same cage, a phenomenon that demonstrated a basic capacity for vocal learning in the rodents.

Humans and bats, as well as other mammals and some species of birds, are the only animals to previously exhibit such a trait.

Jarvis noted: “In mice, the [ability to match pitch] don’t exist at the advanced levels found in humans and song-learning birds, but they also are not completely absent as commonly assumed.”

According to The Telegraph, vocal learning in mice was affected when scientists took way a mouse’s ability to hear, or damaged cells in the motor cortex of its brain.