Alston Mice singing in duet reveal new insights on human conversations
A recent study of mice, called Alston’s singing mice, offers new insights into the brain's workings.
The remarkable songs of these mice calling each other are very similar to our human conversations. There seem to be similar brain control clusters in these tiny mammals to brain control systems in humans that are responsible for language.
The study revealed that while 'one brain system directs the patterns of notes that make up songs', the other 'coordinates duets with another mouse' according to Michael Long, a neuroscientist at New York University’s School of Medicine.
The mice call each other with repeating calls. Their duets are to attract mates and stake out territory. Two male singing mice create a rapid-fire duet.
“Once an animal calls, it’s like a symphony that goes off,” (Bret Pasch, biologist at Northern Arizona University)
Although the singing mice’s brains are not exactly like the human brains, the areas that are used to pace chatter, give clues to the workings of human conversations.
Alston’s singing mice live high in the mountains of the Central American cloud forest. Their main diet consists of fresh insects, fruits and berries. The dark brown mice have a short tail and are tiny. An adult mouse weighs only about 12g which is as much as a table spoon of sugar!
image: Science News