Rats trained to drive tiny cars find it relaxing, scientists report

phys.org | 10/10/2019 | Staff
Emzah92Emzah92 (Posted by) Level 3
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Sometimes life really can be a rat race.

US scientists have reported successfully training a group of the rodents to drive tiny cars in exchange for bits of Froot Loops cereal, and found that learning the task lowered their stress levels.

Study - Rat - Brains - Day - Help

Their study not only demonstrates how sophisticated rat brains are, but could one day help in developing new non-pharmaceutical forms of treatment for mental illness, senior author Kelly Lambert of the University of Richmond told AFP on Wednesday.

Lambert said she had long been interested in neuroplasticity—how the brain changes in response to experience and challenges—and particularly wanted to explore how well rats that were housed in more natural settings ("enriched environments") performed against those kept in labs.

Colleagues - Robot - Car - Kit - Plastic

She and colleagues modified a robot car kit by adding a clear plastic food container to form a driver compartment with an aluminum plate placed on the bottom.

A copper wire was threaded horizontally across the cab to form three bars: left, center and right.

Rat - Aluminum - Floor - Wire - Circuit

When a rat placed itself on the aluminum floor and touched the wire, the circuit was complete and the car moved in the direction selected.

Seventeen rats were trained over several months to drive around an arena 150 centimeters by 60 centimeters made of plexiglass.

Behavioural - Brain - Research - Researchers

Writing in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, the researchers said the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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