Scientists are teaching rats how to drive in tiny cars

Rats learn how to drive cars at University of Richmond

Driving Tiny Cars Helped Rats Feel Less Stressed

A team of scientists has taught the rodents how to operate a tiny vehicle and steer it to a specific destination, where they were rewarded with sugary cereal. Research shows that learning to drive appeared to reduce the rats' stress.

A rat is the best model for the human brain because it has the same areas and the same neurochemicals as the human brain does, but they are smaller. Better understanding their brains will help us better understand our own, Lambert says, and could point the way towards better treatments for mental health conditions.

The auto was created using a clear food container.

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In addition to this, it was explained that when the rats were placed on the aluminium floors and touched the copper bars, the electrical circuit was complete and that enabled the rats to push the auto forward to reach the treat.

Electrical currents were created when the rats grasped the copper bars with their paws. The rats had to put their paws on the steering wheel so that an electric circuit could power the vehicle, which then moved in different directions. Moving the auto forward usually led the rats to a sugary treat of Froot Loops. As it turns out, they are actually capable of driving a small makeshift auto, given that there is a Froot Loop close by.

Researchers likewise discovered that the rats appeared to be less stressed when they get to drive the cars compared to the passenger rats in remotely controlled versions.

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The study found that the rats actually felt more relaxed after driving, with heightened levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the hormone that counteracts stress. The researchers concluded that the training led the rats to have more stress-resilient hormonal profiles. The results of the study could impact future research on how Parkinson's disease alters motor skills and spatial function in humans, Lambert told New Scientist. Professor of behavioral neuroscience, who's the author of the study. The new trial, however, revealed that rodents could enjoy scientific experiments. He noted that the rats used different parts of their brains to achieve their treats.

The study also indicated that the process of learning a new skill seemed to relax the animals.

In the driving rats, the researchers found that the ratio of DHEA to CS increased, which the researchers said, "suggest [s] that driving training, regardless of housing group [enriched or lab cage], enhanced markers of emotional resilience".

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Continuous stress in humans can severely affect a person's immune, digestive and reproductive systems, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

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