Animals Can Tell Time: Report

Fido knows when it's food o'clock.

animals time
Animals might be able to tell time, a new study found. (Purple Collar Pet photography/Getty Images)

An experiment into the part of a mouse’s brain that processes and measures time revealed that the sense was more accurate than humans thought.

While targeting the medial entorhinal cortex in the temporal lobe, researchers from Northwestern University noticed that the animal was able to correctly conceptualize time.

“This is one of the most convincing experiments to show that animals really do have an explicit representation of time in their brains,” one of the study’s researchers, Daniel Dombeck, said in a release.

The scientists noted that there are two “central features” to memories: space and time.

In the trial, the researchers gave the mouse a virtual reality task of running down a hallway to an invisible door that opened after six seconds. After repeating the course, the mouse was able to anticipate the opening’s timing and complete the course with a tasty reward.

“As the animals run along the track and get to the invisible door, we see the cells firing that control spatial encoding,” Dombeck said, describing the space feature of memory.

“Then, when the animal stops at the door, we see those cells turned off and a new set of cells turn on,” he said of the brain’s time feature.

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