Male mice can sing like humans, using high pitched love songs to woo females and even spice up their tunes to overcome any competition, a new study has found.
Researchers found the mice have certain brain features, somewhat similar to humans and song-learning birds, which they may use to change their sounds.
“We are claiming that mice have limited versions of the brain and behaviour traits for vocal learning that are found in humans for learning speech and in birds for learning song,” said Duke neurobiologist Erich Jarvis, who led the study. The discovery contradicts scientists’ 60-year-old assumption that mice do not have vocal learning traits at all.
“If we’re not wrong, these findings will be a big boost to scientists studying diseases like autism and anxiety disorders,” said Jarvis, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
The research suggests the vocal communication pathways in mice brains are more similar to those in human brains than to sound-making circuits in the brains of chimpanzees and other non-human primates.