Laboratory rats are highly developedintelligence and help scientists from around the world to study the work of the brain. For example, in many studies they go through complex labyrinths, and in fact, in some cases even people can cope with this task with great difficulty. Recently, scientists from the US state of Virginia did seemingly incredible things - they taught mice how to drive tiny cars. The experiment once again proved the presence of outstanding mental abilities of rodents and revealed a couple more features of their thinking.
The experiment was leda neuroscientist named Kelly Lambert, and his findings were published in New Scientist. It was attended by 6 females and 11 males, which were placed in turn inside a rectangular arena with an area of 4 square meters. Inside the arena was a tiny car made of transparent plastic with an aluminum floor. Three copper wires served as the steering wheel - when the rat touched one of them with its paw, it closed the electric circuit and set the machine in motion. The middle wire served to move forward, and the extreme ones moved the mechanism left and right.
How smart are animals?
Rodents had a good reason to learn how to driveby car. The bait was feed attached to the wall at one end of the arena. Seeing the food, the rats really tried to master driving. At first it was quite easy for them, because with the close proximity of the feed it was enough to move forward. However, during the experiment, scientists began to move away the bait, so the rodents had to use all three copper wires and move to the food with precision accuracy.
Researchers noticed that the learning processdriving a car brought rodents a sense of satisfaction. This was at least evidenced by an increased concentration of the hormones corticosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone in the feces of the test animals. The first of these hormones is a bright marker of stress, and the second - counteracts stressful conditions. This means that when driving the rats experienced stress, but ultimately enjoyed learning new skills and calmed down. We get about the same pleasure when we learn something new.
By the way, did you know about the existence of rats the size of a dog?
Researchers also noticed that rats mastereddriving skill at different speeds. Individuals who previously actively participated in scientific experiments and often solved all sorts of tasks, learned to drive a tiny car faster. But the rats, which for a long time stayed in dark laboratories and were practically not busy, mastered the new skill with great difficulty.
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According to researchers, this experiment inonce again proves the ability of rodents to learn new skills. In the near future, scientists plan to conduct even more complex experiments and understand exactly how the learning of new skills occurs, what areas of the brain begin to work actively and what exactly is associated with stress reduction.