Tuesday, January 7, 2020


Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

From the BBC:
"Researchers at the University of Richmond in the US taught a group of 17 rats how to drive little plastic cars, in exchange for bits of cereal.
"Study lead Dr Kelly Lambert said the rats felt more relaxed during the task, a finding that could help with the development of non-pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness.
The basics:
Car design: clear plastic jar mounted on an aluminum plate, wheels, copper wire mounted across the inside of the car cab for left-turning, right-turning and center (direct motion)
Motor: Rat sits on aluminum plate, grasps plate and completes a circuit
Driving school: "Months of practice"
Drivers: Laboratory rats and rats living in "enriched" environments
Findings: Drivers had higher levels of dehydroepicandrosterone (anti-stress hormone) than corticosterone (stress hormone) at end of trials
Inference: Higher level of anti-stress hormone may be "linked to the satisfaction of having learned a new skill." 
Application: Because this research shows that behavior can change neurochemistry it is possible that this could have use in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses.
For more see the BBC report which includes an amazing video of rats on the road. Professor Lambert's web page is filled with information about her research as well as many videos so, worth a look.

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