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Reality check

Today we have data showing similar signs of appreciation of Mozart's music
in rats as in humans.

...and did you know that they also are avid Dostoevski fans; not to mention admirers of Velazquez?

I checked my calendar, and saw that it was March 1 and not April 1. So I guess this was meant to be taken seriously.

OK; Since nobody else has risen to the bait, I guess someone has to do it.

Let's just point out two things. First, if it may be useful for people to look at Kenneth Steele's paper in Music Perception [(2003), 21, p251] in which he points out that rats' audiograms are such that they are unlikely to hear anything below 500 HZ, and their cutoff is probably even higher than that based on the reported SPL of 65 and considering background noise. So this means that whatever they were hearing, it was Mozart minus everything below about C5.

The second point, which I would expect an undergraduate to be able to point out (or else flunk my course), is that the cited study used no control group other than no treatment. So the specificity of the conclusions is, shall we say, a bit suspect.

I could go on, but instead, may I simply suggest that the conclusion that rats "show similar signs of appreciation of Mozart" is...um... premature?

Sorry to be such a curmugeon.




Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D.
Montreal Neurological Institute
3801 University St.
Montreal, QC Canada H3A 2B4
phone: 1-514-398-8903
fax: 1-514-398-1338
web site: www.zlab.mcgill.ca