Scientists Discover This Singing Mouse’s Brain Can Bend Time

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. — As Dr. Emmett Brown might say, “Great Scott!” Scientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York have discovered that a mouse’s brain can actually bend time.

In the intricate dance of life, where the tempo can fluctuate wildly, humans and animals alike adapt, keeping pace with everything from conversations to the bustling movement of a crowded sidewalk. The mechanism behind this remarkable flexibility has long intrigued scientists, and recent research may have shed light on this mystery, thanks in part to an unusual participant: Alston’s singing mouse from Costa Rica.

These unique creatures, known for their audible vocalizations that can last several seconds, engage in vocal duets where one mouse responds to another’s call with its own melody, varying in length and speed. This behavior sparked curiosity among researchers about how the brain manages such precise control over the tempo of vocalizations.

Scientists embarked on a study to understand the role of the brain in regulating the tempo of these musical exchanges. They focused their attention on a specific area of the mouse brain known as the orofacial motor cortex (OMC), responsible for controlling movements involved in vocalization. By simulating duets with the mice and recording the activity of neurons within the OMC over several weeks, the researchers observed how the brain adjusted the timing of the songs.

The key finding was the concept of temporal scaling, a process where neurons in the OMC do not adhere to absolute timing like a clock but instead adjust the timing relative to the song’s tempo.

“They actually slow down or speed up the interval. So, it’s not like one or two seconds, but 10 percent, 20 percent,” says study author Arkarup Banerjee, assistant professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in a media release.

creating music using artificial intelligence
Scientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York have discovered that the brain of the Alston’s singing mouse can actually bend time. (© YarikL –

This important discovery not only provides insight into how the brain facilitates vocal communication but also suggests broader implications for understanding how time perception is managed in other brain areas, influencing a range of behaviors.

Banerjee believes that the findings have far-reaching implications beyond the realm of language and music. They could offer a glimpse into how our brains compute time in general, allowing us to adapt our actions and behaviors in a dynamic world. This adaptability, according to Banerjee, is what gives the human brain its remarkable flexibility, enabling everything from the enjoyment of literature to the complex task of space exploration.

“It’s this three-pound block of flesh that allows you to do everything from reading a book to sending people to the moon,” explains Banerjee. “It provides us with flexibility. We can change on the fly. We adapt. We learn. If everything was a stimulus-response, with no opportunity for learning, nothing that changes, no long-term goals, we wouldn’t need a brain. We believe the cortex exists to add flexibility to behavior.”

The study is published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Follow on Google News

About the Author

StudyFinds Staff

StudyFinds sets out to find new research that speaks to mass audiences — without all the scientific jargon. The stories we publish are digestible, summarized versions of research that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. I caught a mouse in a glue trap in my garage. When it saw/heard me, it began to “scream,” a sort of extremely high pitched whistle. That was the only mouse scream that I’ve heard among the many mice I’ve caught the same way. Could this one be related to singing mice or do all mice make this kind of noise?

Comments are closed.