Oct 11, 2012 7:08 PM GMT
Disney was right.
Mice can "sing" like a choir by matching the pitch of their voice to that of others, scientists claim.
Brain features used by humans and song-learning birds to manipulate the sounds we make are also shared to an extent by mice, a study found.
The finding contradicts a long-held assumption that mice cannot learn to adapt their voices – a trait thought to be common only to humans, bats and a handful of bird and large mammal species.
Although it was previously known that mice make an ultrasonic noise referred to as a "song" to attract mates, it had never been demonstrated that they were capable of changing pitch.
Researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans found that when two male mice of different types were housed together, they slowly began to match the pitch of their songs to each other – a basic form of vocal learning.
When the scientists damaged brain cells in the motor cortex which appeared to be controlling the mice's singing they lost their ability to sustain the same pitch and to consistently make the same noise. The same effect was noticed when the mice were made deaf.