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Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:05 PM

 

What's the difference between rats and Republicans?

Rats Experience Feelings of Regret

A new study shows for the first time that rats regret bad decisions and learn from them. In addition to existentialist suggestions of a rat’s regret — and what that takes away from, or adds to, being “human” — the study is highly relevant to basic brain research. Researchers demonstrated that we can tap into complex internal states of rodents if we hone in on the right behavior and the right neurons. There is a significant literature on what brain regions are representative of certain states, like reward predictions and value calculations, but the study, powered by a novel behavioral test, is able to put together such discrete behavioral correlates into a “rat” definition of regret.

Finding better animal models of human behavior constitute a long-standing challenge in neuroscience: It has been difficult to authentically recapitulate mental states in animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders: For example, an attempt to model depression in rodents can often go no further than relatively coarse approximations of the core symptoms like guilt or sadness, which often translates to behaviors like social avoidance or anhedonia in rodents. The inability to efficiently approach the questions of mental abnormalities is a major problem. Depression is currently ranked as the leading cause of disability globally, and it’s estimated that by 2020, depression will lead 1.5 million people to end their lives by suicide.

Now, thanks to a simple yet well-conceived series of experiments by Steiner and Redish, a compound behavior like regret is fully open to investigation. The investigators use a spatial decision-making set-up called “Restaurant Row”: an arena with four zones where four different flavors of food (banana, cherry, chocolate or unflavored) are introduced in sequence. Every time a rat entered a zone, it encountered a random length of delay and a tone before receiving the reward: the pitch of the tone indicated the delay the rat had to wait before receiving a reward (a higher pitch representing a longer delay). The delay counted down, with each subsequent second indicated by a lower pitch tone. Rats were trained to go one zone to next over a period of on hour. So, upon entering a zone, a rat knew what flavor of reward it was getting and how long it had to wait for it.

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A fascinating conclusion of these recordings revealed a subtle subtext of human regret that is mirrored in rats. Studies of regret in humans show that people regret miscalculated actions more than the missed outcomes — i.e a gambler feels more regret over misplaying a hand than over how much money she lost. In an effort to see if rats had a similar cognitive structure of regret, investigators first examined the neural activity signatures in the OFC and vStr in two separate instances: when a rat entered a zone and when it received a reward. When compared to the activity signatures at the moment of regret (based on when a rat turned and looked at the missed opportunity), it was the signature of zone, not of the regret, that lit up in the respective brain regions: Rats regret having skipped the zone more than having not received the reward.


http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rats-experience-feelings-of-regret/?&WT.mc_id=SA_MB_20140730

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply What's the difference between rats and Republicans? (Original post)
Scuba Jul 2014 OP
lpbk2713 Jul 2014 #1
Post removed Jul 2014 #2
hifiguy Jul 2014 #3
gratuitous Jul 2014 #4
Itchinjim Jul 2014 #5
samsingh Jul 2014 #6
11 Bravo Jul 2014 #7
Arugula Latte Jul 2014 #8
applegrove Jul 2014 #9

Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:07 PM

1. How soon do you need an answer?






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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:08 PM

3. Well, there some depths to which not even rats will sink...

 

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:09 PM

4. In addition to feelings of regret

Researchers have also found that despite their meticulousness in setting up certain experiments, there are some things a rat just won't do.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:12 PM

5. Seven letters.

Other than that, nothing.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:14 PM

6. people can get attached to rats

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:32 PM

7. One is a sewer-dwelling, disease-carrying, scourge on humanity.

The other is a fuzzy rodent with a long tail.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 04:42 PM

8. Rats are fairly intelligent. nt

 

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 05:00 PM

9. Rats will swim away from a sinking ship, the GOP, not so much.

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