Have you thought animals might be smarter than often credited to be?

From the, "You know, animals can be pretty smart", files.
https://www.newscientist.com/articl...ined-rats-to-drive-tiny-cars-to-collect-food/

Scientists have trained rats to drive tiny cars to collect food
22 October 2019
By Alice Klein

Rats have mastered the art of driving a tiny car, suggesting that their brains are more flexible than we thought. The finding could be used to understand how learning new skills relieves stress and how neurological and psychiatric conditions affect mental capabilities.

We know that rodents can learn to recognise objects, press bars and find their way around mazes. 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.

Lambert and her colleagues wondered if rats could learn the more sophisticated task of operating a moving vehicle.

...

Learning to drive seemed to relax the rats. The researchers assessed this by measuring levels of two hormones: corticosterone, a marker of stress, and dehydroepiandrosterone, which counteracts stress. The ratio of dehydroepiandrosterone to corticosterone in the rats’ faeces increased over the course of their driving training.

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 higher dehydroepiandrosterone levels and were less stressed than rats that were driven around as passengers in remote-controlled cars.

The ability of rats to drive these cars demonstrates the “neuroplasticity” of their brains, says Lambert. This refers to their ability to respond flexibly to novel challenges. “I do believe that rats are smarter than most people perceive them to be, and that most animals are smarter in unique ways than we think,” she says.

...
That bit is quite interesting,
"... 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."

Hmm, I wonder if that transfers to humans riding in self driving cars?
"... the team found that rats that drove themselves had higher dehydroepiandrosterone levels and were less stressed than rats that were driven around as passengers in remote-controlled cars."
Likes: Wolfcub

Comments

I think animals of all species, including birds are capable of many things we don't know half of anything about yet.
But I have noticed it does seem that there is a lot of interest nowadays in discovering their abilities.
 

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