Ratatouille, the animated film released in 2007 may have had you fully convinced that rats can indeed make tasty dishes, but sadly, it is not true (as of now). But that doesn’t mean that near-omnipresent rodent is not capable of surprising feats. Rats can… drive a car now.
There may not have been a movie on this but rats that are being studied in University of Richmond in the US can drive around in cars, quite literally!
Well, to be fair, these are not exactly Porsche they are driving. The ‘cars’ they are driving are made of empty plastic boxes. But rats acquiring skill to drive a vehicle, however small, is an achievement in itself.
Kelly Lambert at the University of Richmond make these tiny cars. The cars are made of transparent plastic boxes and have aluminium floors. There are three copper bars inside the car that the rats can touch. Whenever the rat touches a bar, it completes a circuit and the car moves. The bar on the left moves the car to left. The bar on the right moves the car to the right.
VIDEO: Dr. Kelly Lambert’s research lab at the University of Richmond, in the US state of Virginia, trains rats to drive small cars, exploring the potential benefits to the brain in the process. pic.twitter.com/7G1JqVfTDI
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 21, 2022
Lambert and her colleagues selected six female and four male rats and trained them to drive these cars. This was achieved by offering food as a reward.
The cars were driven in four square metre arena that was constructed for the experiment.
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Initially the rats were awarded food when they touched the copper bars. But the reward threshold was soon raised. The food was placed in different parts of the arena. The rats soon adapted to the new challenge and began driving the car in order to get the food. They even devised out paths that were not directly taught to them.
The experiment is likely to help scientists to help researchers to understand cognition further.
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