Well, we listened a lot to bird songs last year at PLoS ONE forums and journal clubs. After birds, mice arrived on the scene to sing and squeal, meaning that rodents could as well joyfully sing, and that their songs to prospective mates are as likely complex as those of birds. However, unlike birds, their vocalizations are discharged at ultrasonic frequencies, and that is why no one noticed them, nor was anyone motivated to celebrate them. But, as one of the many celebrated PLoS ONE stories (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001893) echoes in popular media and blogosphere, we may hope they will likely find a place in romantic poetry! The article was published by H. Wang and colleagues quite some time back (in April 2008), but was recently showcased in a recent news round-up by New Scientist of the top ten genetics stories of the year. Alison Motluk of New Scientist discussed this research and also provided recordings of the squeaks of male mice in a human audible format.
“Most musical, most melancholy bird,” said Samuel Taylor Coleridge of the nightingale ‘but whether birdsong can affect us in the same way as a beautiful sonata played by a human musician is another matter’ said Rebecca Walton in her blog post summating another celebrated article by Stefan Koelsch of the University of Sussex, wherein his team, investigated differential response to instrumental and computerised music. According to this research, volunteers who listened to recordings of professional pianists showed more emotional activity of the brain than did those who listened to recordings made by computer. This article was covered in different headlines by the Chronicle of Higher Education (Don't Cry For Me, R2D2), The Telegraph (Sweaty music find could help develop new treatments), The Guardian (Music that brings a tear to the eye), Wired (Study: Computer Musicians Ain't Got No Soul) and PsychCentral (Computer Music Not As Calming).
At the end of the year, one more article ("Practicing a musical instrument in childhood is associated with enhanced verbal ability and nonverbal reasoning" PLoS ONE, 2008) dominated the blogosphere, this time for another reason, to celebrate the second birthday of PLoS ONE! This was all about an excellent blog by SciCurious of the Neurotopia 2.0 (Einstein was smart, but Could He Play the Violin?) who won the PLoS ONE second birthday synchroblogging competition organized on December 20, 2008.
All content published in PLoS ONE, from dinosaurs to elephants to chimps to birds to bats and about mice to butterflies and bees is freely available online. Rate them and comment and discuss yourself to enjoy the full power of Web 2.0 technology that PLoS ONE harnesses. Here at PLoS ONE is certainly quite diverse food for thought and you can always join in the discussion by creating an account on the journal site and posting your comments for others to read.