Have you ever wondered how music can affect the brains of mice? If so, you’re not alone. Many studies have been conducted on this very question and surprisingly, the answer is quite remarkable. In fact, there are some surprising facts that demonstrate music has a profound effect on the brains of mice.
It has long been known that musical rhythms produce a response in the brains of animals. For example, rhythmical beats produced by drums and other musical instruments cause the same response in the mice as is seen in humans. Similarly, there are recordings of musical rhythms from famous rock bands and music artists which show the same response in mice. These results show the ability of our ears to recognize musical rhythms. The research also shows that the brain responds to music the same way it does when hearing rhythms alone. This shows music has an effect on the brain similar to other forms of stimuli.
The researchers went one step further and exposed the mice to music for hours at a time. Interestingly, this did not cause any change in behavior or preference in the mice; in fact, they showed no change at all in their behavior at the end of the experiment. The reason why the music had no effect is that the mice were being trained to ignore the sound of the music. Thus, the training music did not have any influence on them whatsoever. Thus music in itself has a music effect on mice.
However, what about the sound produced by the music? Does the sound have any effect over the mice? The researchers found that repeated exposure to the sound of the repeated rhythms had a strong effect on the mice’s brain. In other words, the more repetitive the sound, the more profound the effect on the brain. Repeated exposure to the music also enhanced the mice’s ability to recognize and associate sound with rhythm.
The researchers went one step further and found that repeated exposure to the same rhythm from a different source had the same effect on the neurons as when the mice heard music. Thus, repeated exposure to a repetitive sound could actually turn neurons into music memory cells. This discovery opens up avenues to treating neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as other diseases through the use of music therapy. It also opens up avenues for understanding how music can affect brain function in a non-invasive way, without the need for invasive procedures such as brain surgery.
In the study, the researchers found that there was an effect over mice when the music effect became self-perpetuating. This means that when the sound of a repetitive sound was played repeatedly, the sound would become embedded in the mice’s memory. In other words, once the repetitive sound was played, the memory of that sound was associated with that particular time and place. This form of music-memory cell was found to be true in all animals tested, but especially in rats.
The scientists went on to show that the memory association was not only found when the mice were trained to remember where they had hidden food, but it was true for any type of memory. In other words, when the mice were trained to remember a rainbow, they created a preference for colors which they had learned by hearing music. This was quite the surprising result, because it indicated that musical memory was not some sort of passive trait which was inherited or gained during a certain stage of development in humans. Instead, it appears that it is a very complex trait, tied to both the listening process and the brains’ neural architecture.
The scientists believe that the reason the effect over mice was found is that music effects brain function in a way that most sensory stimuli, such as sight, do not. For example, we see successful musicians play music in their concerts, but have never been able to explain how this occurs. Similarly, we don’t understand why newborn babies will cry when they hear the sound of a parent’s voice but will not cry when they hear the same sound made by a foreign speaker. However, when the researchers induced these effects in non-musical animals, they found that it worked the same in humans as well. Thus, it appears that the ability to hear music has a biological basis and can be taught rather easily to a large number of people.