Singing Mice Learn New Tunes

Singing Mice

Not only can male mice sing, they can learn to change the notes they produce in their songs.

That’s the finding of a new study by Duke University neurobiologist Erich Jarvis and his colleagues Gustavo Arriaga and Eric Zhou.

The fact that mice sing was documented in a 2005 study by assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy Timothy E. Holy and programmer Zhongsheng Guo.

To study the mice’s vocalizations, which are too high for humans to hear, the researchers recorded the sounds and then slowed them down. They found that mice sing songs with melodies and repeated phrases to court female mice.

More than just a squeak above the limit of human hearing, the songs contain a variety of syllables and have recurring themes.

Jarvis and his colleagues went a step further. Their research, published October 10 in the journal PLoS ONE, reveals that mice can be taught to vocalize different notes—just like humans, dolphins, whales, and a few other species.

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