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The T-Maze and Effect of Music on Learning Ability of Mice (again.)

Nick Medford nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk
Mon Nov 15 20:57:35 EST 1999

In article <80o967$1n9$1 at oravannahka.helsinki.fi>,
dag.stenberg at helsinki.nospam.fi writes
>Bill Skaggs <skaggs at bns.pitt.edu> wrote:
>... (many _very_ useful hints about behavioral testing in rats and mice)...
>> Whether you can attribute any
>> observed differences to learning might be another question. 
>I still think that the experimental design presented by Edmund cannot not
>tell us much about music in learning. Any more comments? 
>Dag Stenberg
 I don't understand the need for so many different test groups but obviously
the key thing is that there *is* a control group, so that's fine. I don't think
it's a crazy idea that exposure to music might affect the animals' performance
on the task. I'm sure people here will be familiar with the so-called "Mozart
effect" experiments where exposure to Mozart's music has supposedly
enhanced (human) subjects' cognitive performances in various situations. I
know these experiments have been controversial and various
methodological/interpretational criticisms have been levelled at them. But
there's at least some precedent for the idea- in humans anyway, not sure
about rodents! (Was there a Mozart experiment on rats?? I've got a feeling
there was).

I think the delay between playing the music and testing the mice is maybe
too long. The teacher's idea of playing the music during the test is OK if
you believe that the effect of the music will be instantaneous, but this
doesn't seem very likely and anyway you seem to be asking a question about
the effect of music in the longer term. In which case why not just use a
delay of about 20 minutes: that way you can see if there's any effect after a
brief period, and you can also see if the group that hears the music gets
better and better the more times they hear it. 

I know a lot more about human minds and brains than I do about mice, and
I have no idea how human music might sound to mice and whether it might
affect them in any way. But don't let that put you off- I suspect no-one else
has any idea about that either. If you control your experiment properly and
you find a definite effect for the music, no-one can dismiss it by saying-
'don't be silly, mice don't like human music' !! (If anyone does say this, ask
them how they know.) 

Best of luck with the project
Nick Medford

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