Scientists Play Classical Music For Crocodiles To Study Their Brain

Posted: May 5 2018, 10:26am CDT | by , Updated: May 5 2018, 12:51pm CDT, in Latest Science News

 

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Scientists Play Classical Music for Crocodiles to Study their Brain
Credit: Beverly Houwing, National Geographic

Researchers found that additional brain areas activated in crocodiles when they were exposed to complex stimuli such as classical music

For the first time, researchers have used music to learn more about the brains of crocodiles. The unusual experiment revealed new aspects of a crocodile’s brain activity that would otherwise be impossible to see.

Crocodiles are important for our understanding of the reptilian brain as they are one of the most ancient species on Earth and they have barely changed over the past 200 million years or so. Alongside birds, crocodiles are considered to be the living descendants of dinosaurs.

“Analysis of crocodile brain thus provides deep insights into the evolution of the nervous system in mammals and may help us understand at which point certain brain structures and behaviors associated therewith were formed.” German neuroscientist Felix Ströckens who was involved in the study said in a statement.

To understand more about crocodile brain, researchers exposed a Nile crocodile to various visual and auditory stimulations including classical music by Johann Sebastian Bach. During the experiment, MRI scanner was also used to measure the brain activity of the animal. Results showed that different areas of the crocodilian brain activated when they heard complex sounds such as classical music compared to simple noises. Furthermore, the patterns observed in the results were quite similar to those seen in mammals and birds exposed to music.

Researchers have investigated the structure of crocodile brain before but studies related to the function of their brain are rare.

“The difficulty in scanning crocodiles – besides being a little bit dangerous for the experimenter –is that they are cold-blooded reptiles,” Ströckens told Gizmodo.

“We had to be very careful since an angry crocodile could have easily damaged the scanner or injured us – even when they are only one year old, they have pretty strong jaw and tail muscles. But everything went fine and neither we nor the animals got injured.”

The main objective of the study was to determine how crocodile brain comprehends and responds to complex sounds. In addition, it showed that fMRI can be used to investigate neural processing in poikilotherms or animals with varied internal temperatures. In the future, this non-invasive technology could be applied to many other critical species that have not been investigated before.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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