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Tue Oct 22, 2019, 08:35 PM

They Taught Rats How To Drive

Now I wonder why my grand daughter had to try three times to pass her license test. I'll have to ask.

The best take away here is that after learning how to drive, the rats had lower levels of stress than the rats who just rode shotgun. Well yeah... there's a god damned rat driving the car!


The Lambert Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Richmond has trained rats to drive miniature motorized cars to reach food. They taught rats how to drive.

The videos are simultaneously unbelievable and hysterical. A rat climbs into a plastic container secured to a powered sled with wheels, and then it touches one of three wires to navigate the little vehicle towards a piece of Froot Loops cereal.


Here’s a video of the rats driving, which I can’t get enough of:



The project to teach rats to drive was led by Dr. Kelly Lambert, a Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Richmond.

Here’s how the project was carried out, from New Scientist:

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

Is it safe to be the joining connection in an electrical circuit? I guess for a lab rat that sort of comes with the territory. Imagine if our bodies were the keys to our cars. Anyway:

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

The rats were encouraged 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.

The results actually led to some interesting takeaways for the project:

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”.

In support of this idea, 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.

The project will now further study exactly what part of the rat brain is activated by driving, and why exactly it reduces stress levels.

If you think back to the first time you were allowed to drive a car, all of those sensations you now share with a lab rat just trying to eat a Froot Loop.

That’s beautiful. Aren’t we all just rats trying to get to our next Froot Loop?

via Jalopnik:
https://jalopnik.com/they-taught-rats-how-to-drive-1839263963

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply They Taught Rats How To Drive (Original post)
JohnnyRingo Oct 22 OP
dewsgirl Oct 22 #1
littlemissmartypants Oct 22 #2
discntnt_irny_srcsm Oct 23 #3
JohnnyRingo Oct 23 #5
discntnt_irny_srcsm Oct 23 #6
Dem2theMax Oct 23 #4
Auggie Oct 23 #7
pansypoo53219 Oct 23 #8
eppur_se_muova Oct 23 #9
tclambert Oct 23 #10
SunSeeker Oct 24 #11
Tiggeroshii Oct 24 #12
Bob Loblaw Oct 24 #13

Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Tue Oct 22, 2019, 08:47 PM

1. With the exception of one person in my life, I prefer to ...

drive ...always. I thought it was me being a control freak, but this makes me feel a little better.

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Tue Oct 22, 2019, 09:56 PM

2. This is delightful.

Who's ready for rodent Nascar?

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 06:01 AM

3. Do the boy rats refuse to ask directions?

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 11:19 AM

5. Probably why they included a passenger.

"Pull over and ask that Gerbil".

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 11:22 AM

6. Without a witness, it never happened since...

...the rat eats the evidence of success.

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 11:12 AM

4. I can see how my day is going to end.

Someone is going to ask me what I did today.
Yep. I'm going to tell them I sat and watched rats learning how to drive.

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 11:25 AM

7. Not a good idea ... California freeways are crowded enough

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 04:05 PM

8. NPR needed this video link!

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 06:09 PM

9. One Ig Nobel on its way. nt

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 09:41 PM

10. That explains what I see on the road every day.

I just thought human beings were idiots.

Every time I see someone do something really dumb on the highway, I mutter, "And that's why we can't have flying cars."

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Thu Oct 24, 2019, 12:53 AM

11. Depends on the driver. I'm VERY stressed driven by my teenage son.

Mildly stressed by being driven by most others, except for one of my friends who is a smooth, steady and skilled driver.

Less stressed when I'm dtiving myself...but then I'm always stressed by all the other drivers on the road who drive like rude idiots.

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Thu Oct 24, 2019, 01:15 PM

12. zootopia!

If you remember the little gerbils in the tiny cars.

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Response to JohnnyRingo (Original post)

Thu Oct 24, 2019, 06:12 PM

13. If only they could be taught to govern

Wrong rats. My bad.

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