Research finds rats can learn to drive, and even find it relaxing

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Thursday, October 24, 2019
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Research finds rats can learn to drive, and even find it relaxing. Sarah Bloomquist reports during Action News at 4 p.m. on October 23, 2019.

It's a sentence that sounds too ridiculous to be true -- not only can rats learn to drive tiny cars, but they actually find it relaxing.

Video from the Lambert Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Richmond shows little rats driving little rat-sized vehicles.

Dr. Kelly Lambert and her team constructed the tiny cars from clear plastic food containers in order to study cognitive function.

They then rigged the vehicles with an aluminum floor and three copper bars that made the cars go left, right or straight, depending on which one was pressed.

That means the rats not only learned to press the gas, they learned to steer different targets on the maze.

The reward for driving? A Froot Loop cereal piece.

Even more interesting? Dr. Lambert's team found that learning to drive actually relaxed the rats, noticing a drop in their stress levels when they mastered the new skill.

But, just like many humans, they were not as comfortable being passengers.