October 25, 2019 by Steve Hanley
Researchers at the University of Richmond report that driving an electric vehicle makes laboratory rats happy. Moving them in autonomous vehicles bothers them. The lesson for humanity is clear, right? Drive an electric car and be happy! The results of the studies were published in the journal Behavioral Brain Research.
According to New Scientist, researchers designed a tiny car out of a transparent plastic food container. He was given wheels, an aluminum floor and three copper bars that acted as a steering wheel. When the rat stood on the aluminum floor and clutched its copper rods with its paws, it completed the electrical circuit that propelled the car forward. Touching the left, middle or right lane tilts the car in different directions. Six female and 11 male rats were trained to drive the car in rectangular areas up to 4 square meters in size and were rewarded with pieces of Froot Loops cereals as they drove the car forward.
The team encourages rats to develop their driving skills by placing food rewards at increasingly distant points around the arena. "They learned how to navigate the car in unique ways and got into driving models that they never used to get to the prize," says lead researcher Kelly Lambert.
The lab researcher is not for sissy
Just how do researchers determine if rats are happy? Analyzing the chemicals in their feces, of course. Here is from New Scientist .
"Driving learning seemed to release the rats. Researchers evaluated this by measuring the levels of two hormones: corticosterone, a stress marker and dehydroepiandrosterone, which counteracts stress. The ratio of dehydroepiandrosterone to corticosterone in the faeces of rats increases during their driving training. Researchers found that guided rats had higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone and were less stressed than rats moving around like passengers in remote-controlled vehicles. "
Lambert has shown in previous research studies that rats become less stressed after mastering difficult tasks such as digging for buried food, suggesting that they can gain the same satisfaction as humans when they acquire a new skill. "In humans, we call it self-efficacy or agency. I believe that rats are smarter than most people perceive them to be, and that most animals are smarter in unique ways than we think, "she says.
Her team is developing new experiments to see how rats learn to drive, why they seem to reduce stress and what areas of the brain are involved. Perhaps driving electric cars will reduce the frequency of road rage on public highways?
Follow CleanTechnica on Google News.
It will make you happy and help you live in peace for the rest of your life.