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Rats! We’re not the only creatures who can drive anymore. Scientists reveal a new study that suggests rats can learn to master driving a mini-car, and they seem to find it relaxing.

This means that rats have brains that are far more flexible and moldable than we could have ever imagined. We’ve seen rats solve puzzles, mazes, and now they are driving small vehicles to pick up food and objects.

“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.

You might be wondering how we know that driving these makeshift vehicles relaxed the lab rats. Here’s how we know this; by measuring the levels of two hormones in the rats’ feces.

  1. Corticosterone, a marker of stress
  2. Dehydroepiandrosterone, which counteracts stress.
    • The ratio of dehydroepiandrosterone to corticosterone in the rats’ feces increased over the course of their driving training.

The team is looking into understanding why the driving reduces stress, which brain areas are involved, and just exactly how the rats learn to drive cognitively.

Read the full story here.

By Marc Charles

Source: New Scientist

Marc Charles has worked in Radio and Media since 2005. Marc has been active in media in Detroit, Ohio, Canada, and Florida. When he's not blogging for Money Talk Radio, he covers UFC and Boxing at big events, and with his weekly radio show The Octagram. Follow Marc on social media @MarcCharlesMMA & @TheOctagramMMA.