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Production of regular rhythm induced by external stimuli in rats


Rhythmic ability is important for locomotion, communication, and coordination between group members during the daily life of animals. We aimed to examine the rhythm perception and production abilities in rats within the range of a subsecond to a few seconds. We trained rats to respond to audio-visual stimuli presented in regular, isochronous rhythms at six time-intervals (0.5–2 s). Five out of six rats successfully learned to respond to the sequential stimuli. All subjects showed periodic actions. The actions to regular stimuli were faster than randomly presented stimuli in the medium-tempo conditions. In slower and faster tempo conditions, the actions of some subjects were not periodic or phase-matched to the stimuli. The asynchrony regarding the stimulus onset became larger or smaller when the last stimulus of the sequence was presented at deviated timings. Thus, the actions of the rats were tempo matched to the regular rhythm, but not completely anticipative. We also compared the extent of phase-matching and variability of rhythm production among the interval conditions. In interval conditions longer than 1.5 s, variability tended to be larger. In conclusion, rats showed a tempo matching ability to regular rhythms to a certain degree, but maintenance of a constant tempo to slower rhythm conditions was difficult. Our findings suggest that non-vocal learning mammals have the potential to produce flexible rhythms in subsecond timing.

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Data are provided as electronic supplementary materials.


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We are grateful to Dr. Yoshimasa Seki for his useful comments on our experiment. We thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their useful and constructive comments on the manuscript.


This study was supported by a JSPS KAKENHI Grant number 17J10994 to N. K., and MEXT/JSPS KAKENHI Grant number #4903, JP17H06380 to K. O.

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Correspondence to Noriko Katsu.

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The experiments in the present study were conducted in accordance with experimental implementation regulations of the University of Tokyo. The present study was approved by the animal experimental committee at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Permission Number: 27-8).

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Katsu, N., Yuki, S. & Okanoya, K. Production of regular rhythm induced by external stimuli in rats. Anim Cogn 24, 1133–1141 (2021).

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  • Rhythm
  • Synchronization
  • Entrainment
  • Subsecond timing
  • Rat