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Rat Robot Makes Live Rats Depressed

February 15, 2013

Lab rats have a new companion, but it’s not friendly. Researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, have developed a robotic rat called WR-3 whose job is to induce stress and depression in lab animals, creating models of psychological conditions on which new drugs can be tested.

Animal are used throughout medicine as models to test treatments for human conditions, including mental disorders like depression. Rats and mice get their sense of smell severed to induce something like depression, or are forced to swim for long periods, for instance. Other methods rely on genetic modification and environmental stress, but none is entirely satisfactory in recreating a human-like version of depression for treatment. Hiroyuki Ishii and his team aim to do better with WR-3.

The researchers tested WR-3’s ability to depress two groups of 12 rats, measured by the somewhat crude assumption that a depressed rat moves around less. Rats in group A were constantly harassed by their robot counterpart, while the other rats were attacked intermittently and automatically by WR-3, whenever they moved. Ishii’s team found that the deepest depression was triggered by intermittent attacks on a mature rat that had been constantly harassed in its youth.

The team say they plan to test their new model of depression against more conventional systems, like forced swimming.

Text and Image via Gizmodo

2 comments

  1. Make them sit at a computer all day under florescent lighting. Then make them work for something they don’t care about. For money. Then create new necessities. Then charge out WR-3’s butt to use them.

    Or make them pay 70+ bucks to sleep. Hotels are one of the most depressing things I’ve ever experienced.

    Or make them sit for two seconds after a light turns green. Honk city. Make them drive period.

    Make them listen to pop radio.


  2. the science of cruelty and the cruelty of science



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