Scientists who blasted dance music at drugged mice in a "tasteless" experiment have been reprimanded by the Home Office. Seven mice forced to listen to the Prodigy after being given a strong form of amphetamine died while others suffered brain damage.
Animal rights campaigners at the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) described the research as "tasteless and horrific".
Today, a year after the results were published, the Home Office confirmed it had taken "infringement action" against the Cambridge University team led by Dr Jenny Morton.
Although the Home Office would not discuss the nature of the action, the scientists are known to have received "formal admonitions" and been remind-ed of the rules governing animal research.
The BUAV said it was appalled that the researchers had got away with a "slap on the wrist". Wendy Higgins, director of campaigns, said: "They should be prosecuted for animal cruelty."
The mouse study was a "by-product" of research into Huntington's disease, a condition affecting the nervous system.
A total of 238 mice were used, half of which were injected with the drug methamphetamine and half salt water. The drugged mice were then exposed to silence, white noise – a "rushing" sound made from a combination of different frequencies – or loud music. The music played was either from the Prodigy or Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor, both of which have a similar tempo.
The animals injected with salt fell asleep when the music was played. But the sound caused the drugged mice to suffer more speed-induced brain damage than normal. As well as the Prodigy fatalities, four mice made to listen to Bach also died.
Dr Morton said the volume, 95 decibels, was equivalent to listening to a personal stereo turned up reasonably loud.
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