Deep Squeak, a new software program, is here to decode rodents chatter. Learn how this new technology will help you in knowing rodents better.
How do animals talk to each other? Most animals use sound and smell to communicate with each other. Researchers say that animals do not have particular language like humans; however, they have in-born qualities which they use to express their feelings.
Infants use this same communication method when they cry or sleep. But later, they learn the language (words) and use it as a form of communication.
Do you know just like humans, rats and mice are also social and talkative? Yes, animals also spend all their day talking and chatting with their friends. Although they don’t use the latest technologies like WhatsApp or Facebook, they do talk much.
Just imagine how amazing it would be to know what our pets are talking. But have you ever wondered what they say and talk? If you are an animal lover and particularly a rat lover, you can be happy as this latest software program can decode rodents chatter.
Rodents barely make any sounds that you can hear. Their communication starts from 2 kHz and extends up to 100 kHz, and humans can hear the sounds from 2-20 kHz. The majority of their chats fall into the ultrasonic spectrum. Both domestic and wild pet rats seem almost mute, but when they talk, they talk for hours.
If you have rats at home or have spent time around them, then the sound of chattering might be familiar to you. Teeth grinding in rodents signify their discomfort to happiness. Teeth chattering speaks about emotions in rats, but sometimes it can be confusing. If you observe the hairs on their body to be straight up, it indicates that they are feeling irritated at the moment.
Squeaks and Chirps are just one way they communicate with each other. However, it is known that rats communicate at pitches that humans can’t hear.
Rodents engage in communication through USVs (Ultrasonic vocalizations). The analysis of USV’s is usually performed in rodent behavioral model to get insights into their emotional state and behavior.
Despite strong evidence that the ultrasonic vocalizations offer, several technical and financial limitations have been barriers to researchers and laboratories to accept this vocalization analysis.
Curious to know what do the rodents share, two young scientists at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine created a software program ‘Deep Squeak’ which unveils the words spoken by the rodents. Earlier, many rodent vocalizations developed were unable to be heard by humans, but also several computer programs designed to detect these vocalizations were defective. They added noises, were slow to study data and would depend on inflexible rules-based algorithms to detect what they were talking.
But this new software program designed lifts this barrier and utilizes the broad adoption of rodent vocalization research. (15.1)
Ultrasonic vocalizations will now become easy to access, thanks to this latest technology which represents the use of artificial neural networks in squeak detection and works by converting an audio signal it into an image. Now, you might be wondering how does this software work?
This new software program takes an audio signal and transforms it into an image. By reframing the audio signal as a visual one, they (researches) could take benefit of the machine vision algorithms designed for self-driving cars. This software program was highlighted recently in a paper ‘Neuropsychopharmacology’ and was also presented at Neurosciences 2018.
Russel Marx, a technician, and co-author who studies behaviors related to addiction and stress explains,
“DeepSqueak uses biomimetic algorithms that learn to isolate vocalizations by being given labeled examples of vocalizations and noise.”
Kevin Coffey (a specialist in studying the aspect of drugs) says that the rodents feel happy when they play with their friends. For instance, when two mice particularly (males) interact, they talk too much. But when a female mouse is around, they talk more complex perhaps they talk about love songs. Their talk is even dramatic when they see male mouse but not the female ones. His observation concludes that male mice have different songs for different stages of courtship.
He said -
“The animals have a rich repertoire of calls, around 20 kinds."
"With drugs of abuse, you see both positive and negative calls,” explains Coffey.
His aim is developing treatments for withdrawal from alcohol.
He further added-
"If scientists can understand better how drugs change brain activity to cause pleasure or unpleasant feelings, we could devise better treatments for addiction."
Source – ‘UW Medicine’
There is no doubt that animals too communicate with each other. They express their feelings and share a strong bond. Human language is creative and consists of several words that help us in expressing what we feel. Animals like rodents do not have a true language, but they speak and talk a lot.
Next time, if you hear rodents squeaking, maybe they are communicating something personal. So you better don’t disturb them! In case, when you record rats’ talk with an ultrasonic microphone, you will find that they share everything from happiness to sadness and even laughter.
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