Sunday, March 20, 2011
Of mice and metal
As regular readers of this blog know (all three of you) I am partial to a bit of metal in my musical diet. I am unapologetic for this as the eternal thirteen year old inner-child will always be seduced by bangin' guitars, double kick drums and anthemic choruses. It's just the way it is and I have accepted this reality as much as I'm comfortable with my ugly face - you just have to accept your flaws and move on. However, Katie pointed out this remarkable scientific experiment recently where they played metal at mice for 24 hours - kind of:
Music, Mice and Madness
A student named David Merrill devised an experiment to discover how music would affect the ability of mice to learn new things. Merrill had one group of mice listen to classical music 24 hours a day and another to heavy metal music. He then timed the mice as they ran through mazes to see if the music affected their speed of learning. Unfortunately, he had to cut the first experiment short because the heavy metal mice all killed one another. In a second experiment, mice that listened to Mozart for 10 hours a day dramatically improved their maze-solving abilities, while the heavy metal mice actually became worse at solving mazes than they had been at the beginning of the experiment. For more details click here.
THEY FUCKING KILLED EACH OTHER!? Wow I've been to a few mosh pits and people get a bit batshit crazy but killing each other is taking it to a whole new level. The thing about this study is that it doesn't outline what kind of metal was played to the mice. For example, if they repeatedly played the same Napalm Death song over and over for 24 hours, I would have no idea why the mice would turn on each other. However, if the researcher classified Nickelback as metal and played half a song at them, they'd probably start killing each other in some collective murder-suicide pact. Now that I can understand.
To be honest, I'm not that surprised. Seeing any congregation of metal heads is like watching an ape revert to a primal knuckle dragging state - it a death-circle-of-stoopid. However, it's understandable though as metal (even at it's worst) is very visceral and affecting. It makes you want to punch the air, throw a devil horn, take a swing at someone, eat the limbs of your next door neighbour - that kind of thing.
My only problem with this study is maybe they should have found some mice who were metal fans before the test rather than some lamearse mouse that loves Justin Beiber (understandable given the pitch of his voice). Surely there are some mouse Maiden fans out there who would have moshed for 24 hours and then smashed their way through the maze. I think the researcher was just playing to the wrong audience.