Music for mice strikes sour note
LONDON,Â*August 20
The Home Office said Monday it has reprimanded a team of scientists at Cambridge University for fatally blasting drugged mice with loud dance and classical music.

Seven mice, given doses of a strong amphetamine, died after being forced to listen to the Prodigy, a popular electronica group. Four more perished after enduring Johann Sebastian Bach's "Violin Concerto in A Minor."

A Home Office spokeswoman said "appropriate infringement action" had been taken, following an investigation brought on by a complaint from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

The group had denounced the experiment -- part of a bigger study into amphetamines and Huntington's disease -- as "tasteless and horrific" after the results appeared a year ago in NeuroReport, a medical journal.

"The music and drugs study was a by-product of the Huntington's disease research" for which the Cambridge team had obtained an animal experiment license, the Home Office spokeswoman said.

"It developed into a separate piece of work which went beyond the procedures authorised by the original project licence."

Jenny Morton, who led the Cambridge research team, has defended the experiment, saying the volume used -- 95 decibels -- was no different than listening to a personal stereo turned up reasonably loud.

A total of 238 mice were used in the Cambridge experiment -- half of them injected with methamphetamine, half with salt-water. The ones given salt water slept through the music.