Study: Crocodiles in an MRI machine, listening to Bach

Posted on: May 8, 2018

“You’re a scientist who wants to better understand how the reptilian brain responds to sound. What do you do? You slide crocodiles into an MRI scanner and play Bach for them,” writes Leslie Katz in Friday’s (5/4) “An international team of researchers turned to the crocodile, an ancient species of vertebrates that’s barely changed over millions of years and thus constitutes a link between dinosaurs and modern birds. They … put small, year-old Nile crocs into a MRI scanner used for animal research…. Then they monitored the reptiles’ brain activity as they listened to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4…. They were surprised to discover brain activity patterns strongly resembling those identified in mammals and birds in similar studies…. The researchers … just published a study titled ‘Functional MRI in the Nile crocodile: a new avenue for evolutionary neurobiology’ in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences…. Scanning the crocs presented some practical challenges. The researchers couldn’t deeply anesthetize the creatures…. The researchers also had to tweak the scanner to accommodate the crocodiles’ physiology. They call their experiment a technical breakthrough that proved functional MRI can be used in reptiles.”

Posted May 8, 2018