Mice are often used in medical research as they come with a number of benefits, including being similar to humans at biochemical level. However they had not been used in development of cough drugs because researchers were not aware whether they could cough. Now a new study conducted by scientists at Guangzhou Medical College in China finally discovered that mice can indeed cough. The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The researchers exposed a group of mice to fine mists of capsaicin, which is present in chili peppers, and recorded the air moving in and out of the mice with the help of a device known as plethysmograph. The researchers discovered that mice make explosive noises along with abrupt head-tossing, abdominal jerking and open mouths, characteristics that one would expect with a cough.
Stating that it would be interesting to see whether mice can cough voluntarily, Duke University Medical's Erich Jarvis, who was not a part of the study, said, "It would be interesting to see if it's possible to get mice to voluntarily cough, and if so, what are the neural mechanisms in the brain for that. If they can voluntarily cough, maybe the neural circuits for such coughing could be the precursors for their vocal communication circuits."