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Robot Rat Bullies Real Rats Into Depression…for Science!

Posted February 19, 2013 9:04 AM

From ExtremeTech:

Here's a sad thought for you: The rat robot (ratbot?) in the photo above was created solely to bully real rats until they're depressed. This might sound like the work of a sadistic behavioral scientist, but there's actually a rather noble cause: The development of effective antidepressants for humans.

In almost every case, drugs are extensively tested on animals before they can be tested on humans. Millions of rats and mice are used every year in the US and EU, mostly because they are mammals (and thus share a similar physiology to humans), and because they're easy to breed and dispose of. Developments are being made in the realm of non-animal, lab-on-a-chip testing, but it will be many years - if ever - that animal testing finally stops.

It's kind of hard to believe, but to test new drugs on an animal, the scientists must first give the animal the same (or similar) human malady. To test antidepressants, you first need a large number of depressed rats. Historically, rat depression has usually been instilled through forced swimming or electric shocks. The problem with these methods, though, is that human depression isn't generally triggered by swimming or electrocution - and thus the ratbot was born.

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#1

Re: Robot Rat Bullies Real Rats Into Depression…for Science!

02/20/2013 1:20 AM

So why didn't they ad a fourth setting called manager mode where no matter what the live rat does the robot undoes it then redoes it, albeit poorly, while claiming the action as its own!

I know for a fact that tends to bring on human depression surprisingly fast.

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#2

Re: Robot Rat Bullies Real Rats Into Depression…for Science!

02/20/2013 6:22 AM

Why use lab rats when we've got *lawyers*? Why?

1. There's more of 'em.

2. Animal-rights activists don't get in a tiff when experiments go horribly wrong.

3. There are some things a rat just won't do.

:-))

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Robot Rat Bullies Real Rats Into Depression…for Science!

02/20/2013 7:29 AM

It's safer to handle rats.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Robot Rat Bullies Real Rats Into Depression…for Science!

02/20/2013 9:57 AM

Yes, it takes rats longer to devour your checkbook.

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Robot Rat Bullies Real Rats Into Depression…for Science!

02/23/2013 12:15 AM

You gotta know just one word and they're putty in your hands: Money. But you can still be creative: Show a lawyer you've got a wad of cash and then stick it back in your pocket. S/he'll follow you around like puppy.

Print off a couple of fake G-notes on a good color printer, bind 'em around a bunch of crisp ones (that they'll automatically assume are more G-notes) and give it a toss. It's how you play fetch.

Take one of your fake G-notes, light a match and threaten to burn it whilst also promising 'em it's theirs - and more, much more - if they do what you tell 'em. They'll fall over themselves scrambling to comply.

Eventually they'll get wind of your duplicity - they are masters of it, after all - and when they do they'll turn hostile, of course, and that's when you test your experimental drugs.

It's all in how you play the game.

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#5

Re: Robot Rat Bullies Real Rats Into Depression…for Science!

02/21/2013 9:43 PM

Destroy their will to live, then replace it with drugs.....I thought we were already doing that.....

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