Lab rats have a highly developed intellect and help scientists from around the world to study the brain. For example, in many studies they are complex mazes, but this task in some cases with great difficulty, even for men. Recently, scientists from the us state of Virginia has done a seemingly incredible — they taught mice to control tiny cars. The experiment again proved to be the outstanding mental abilities of rodents and opened a couple of peculiarities of their thinking.
The experiment was conducted under the leadership of neuroscientist named Kelly Lambert, and his results were published in New Scientist. It was attended by 6 females and 11 males, which in turn was placed inside a rectangular arena with an area of 4 square meters. Inside the arena was located in a tiny car made of transparent plastic with aluminum floor. As the steering wheel served as three copper wire — when the rat touched one of them with a paw, she closed the circuit and brought the car in motion. The middle wire was used for forward movement, and the extreme move the mechanism left and right.
How smart are animals?
Rodent was a good reason to learn to drive a car. The bait was food attached to the wall at one end of the arena. Seeing food, rats really tried to master control of the car. At first it was given to them quite easily, because by the close location of the feed was enough to move forward. However, in the experiment, the scientists started out bait so rodents had to use all three of the copper wire and move to the food with the sighting accuracy.
The researchers noticed that the process of learning to drive brought the rodents a sense of satisfaction. About it at least testified to the increased concentration of hormones corticosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone in the feces of the subjects of animals. The first of these hormones is a clear marker of stress, and the second counteracts the stressful conditions. This means that when driving the rats experienced stress, but in the end get pleasure from learning new skills and calmed down. About the same pleasure we get when we learn something new.
By the way, did you know about the existence of a rat the size of a dog?
Also the researchers noticed that the rats had mastered the skill of driving at different speeds. Individuals who have previously actively participated in scientific experiments and often solved all sorts of problems, learned how to manage a tiny car faster. But rats that stayed a long time in the dark laboratories and almost was not busy, mastered the new skill with great difficulty.
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According to researchers, this experiment once again proves the ability of rodents to learn new skills. In the near future, scientists plan to conduct more complex experiments and to understand how exactly learning new skills, what areas of the brain at the same time begin to actively work with what it is connected to reduce stress.