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New Study Shows Rats Can Learn To Drive Tiny Cars To Collect Food

Researchers at the University of Richmond in Virginia have managed to train rats to drive a tiny car with Froot Loops used as a reward, proving their brains are more flexible than previously thought.


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    The researchers wondered if rats could learn the more sophisticated task of operating a moving vehicle;

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    We know that rodents can learn to recognize objects, press bars and find their way around mazes. These tests are often used to study how brain conditions affect cognitive function, but they only capture a narrow window of animal cognition, says Kelly Lambert at the University of Richmond in Virginia.  

    They constructed a tiny car out of a clear plastic food container on wheels, with an aluminum floor and three copper bars functioning as a steering wheel. When a rat stood on the aluminum floor and gripped the copper bars with their paws, they completed an electrical circuit that propelled the car forward. Touching the left, center or right bar steered the car in different directions.


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    Food reward always helps:

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    Six female and 11 male rats were trained to drive the car in rectangular arenas up to 4 square metres in size. They were rewarded with Froot Loop cereal pieces when they touched the steering bars and drove the car forward.


    The team encouraged the rats to advance their driving skills by placing the food rewards at increasingly distant points around the arena. "They learned to navigate the car in unique ways and engaged in steering patterns they had never used to eventually arrive at the reward," says Lambert.


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    Text - Issam Ahmed @IssamAhmed "The team found that rats that drove themselves had lower dehydroepiandrosterone levels and were less stressed than rats that were driven around as passengers in remote-controlled cars." Scientists have trained rats to drive tiny cars to collect food |.. Rats can learn to drive tiny cars around an arena in exchange for a food reward. Their hormone levels suggest they seem to... RCHSKIND newscientist.com 9:38 pm 22 Oct 2019 Twitter Web Client >
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    This finding echoes Lambert's previous work showing that rats become less stressed after they master difficult tasks like digging up buried food. They may get the same kind of satisfaction as we get when we perfect a new skill, she says. "In humans, we call this self-efficacy or agency."


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    Motor vehicle - Fluffy Jellyfish @FluffyFishJelly Fluffy ellyfish "I do believe that rats are smarter than most people perceive them to be, and that most animals are smarter in unique ways than we think..." II Read more: Scientists have trained rats to drive tiny cars to collect food |.. Rats can learn to drive tiny cars around an arena in exchange for a food reward. Their hormone levels suggest they seem to... newscientist.com 6:21 pm 22 Oct 2019 Twitter for Android 1.3K Likes 253 Retweets
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    The ability of rats to drive these cars demonstrates the "neuroplasticity" of their brains, says Lambert. This refers to their ability to respond flexibly to novel challenges. "I do 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.



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    Text - Margaret Wessman @rungirlrun26 522 THUNDER ROAD Replying to @pourmecoffee Same with my kids. Six female and 11 male rats were trained to drive the car in rectangular arenas up to 4 square metres in size. This involved. ewarding them with Froot Loop cereal eces wnen ey iouchea the steering bars and drove the car forward. 5:12 am 23 Oct 2019 Twitter for Android 707 Likes 63 Retweets
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    Text - tom freethestones @freethestones "Rats manipulate scientists to build them some cars" New Scientist @newscientist 16h New Scentist Scientists have trained rats to drive tiny cars to collect food bit.ly/31GrDCb
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    Text - ForgetfulPerson @ForgetfuP Replying to @URNews2Use,@urichmond and @newscientist Stewart Little wasn't made with CGI folks, it was real 9:26 pm 23 Oct 2019 Twitter for iPhone
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    Via twitter

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    Text - Casey Vise @SirRocket Replying to @URNews2Use, @urichmond and @newscientist Okay, so how long until we have professional rat racing? 6:44 pm 23 Oct 2019 Twitter for iPhone
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    Via twitter

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    Text - Matt Silverman @Matt_Silverman Rats are gonna be so fucked when we invent tiny autonomous cars and they're all out of the job. NewScientist = Scientists have trained rats to drive tiny cars to collect food in LIFE 22 October 2019
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