Mice Can Sing, New Study Finds

Mice can sing, researchers concluded after studying the rodents to see how they interact together in groups.

Scientists at Tulane University in New Orleans found that when two males were housed together, they tune their pitch much like a choir would, the Yahoo! News blog The Sideshow reported.

The finding that mice can sing is surprising because singing in pitch had only been seen previously in humans, bats, and a handful of birds and other mammals, the Telegraph reported.

“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, a neurobiologist who oversaw the study, told the Telegraph. “In mice, they don’t exist at the advanced levels found in humans and song-learning birds, but they also are not completely absent as commonly assumed.”

Before the finding that mice can sing, scientists assumed that mice cannot learn to adapt their voices. It was already known that mice use an ultrasonic noise referred to as a “song” to attract mates, but they have never been seen changing pitch before.

The mice lost their ability to sustain the same pitch when scientists damaged brain cells in the motor cortex that appeared to be controling their singing. They also lost the ability to sing when they were made deaf.

Scientists involved in the study said the finding the mice can sing will have many implications, like studying how diseases like autism and anxiety disorders affect people’s ability to communicate.