How Do You Depress Rats? Introduce Them to the Robot Apocalypse, of Course

By Rich Steeves February 13, 2013

First, a disclaimer. I know that depression is not a laughing matter. Mental illness is a serious problem in our world today, and whether we are talking depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, suicidal ideation or any number of other conditions, it is a serious matter. On the other hand, some who suffer from the greatest sadness find humor in dark places. And, frankly, the idea of scientists trying to depress rats with an evil robot is a pretty funny one on its face. So, even though depression is no laughing matter, this is a pretty interesting story.

It is common practice for scientists to conduct medical research on animals, especially rats (where else did the term “lab rat” come from?). And often, these scientists are forced to introduce maladies into the test subjects. The question facing a group of Japanese researchers, then, was how to depress a group of lab rats. The answer, apparently, was to torment them with the threat of the robot apocalypse.

Seriously.

No one – rat, human or otherwise – likes being bullied. And when the bully in question does not get tired and relentlessly chases you around with the purpose of upsetting you as much as possible, well, that sounds a lot like a recurring nightmare I had after watching The Terminator and Mean Girls too many times in sequence.

Researchers at Waseda University in Japan realized that surgery and chemical treatments were not enough to mimic true depression, so they decided that a relentless, abusive robo-rat was the best option for driving the rats into a dark place. The robot follows the rats around, running into the poor creatures over and over. After dealing with this from youth through adulthood, the rats become listless and “naturally depressed,” meaning they are better candidates for anti-depression drugs. Other than this robo-abuse, researchers claim, the rats are treated fairly.

That is, other than inducing them with horrible, crippling depression. Perhaps a robot mouse from the future will come to liberate them, or The Brain really will take over the world and free his fellow lab rats. Or, perhaps the research will lead to an effective cure for the millions of humans who do suffer from major depression. You know what? I think I’ll take that last option. Those suffering from mental illness need all the help they can get.




Edited by Jamie Epstein

TechZone360 Web Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

A WebRTC-like Standard for the Internet of Things? It's Complicated

By: Doug Mohney    1/13/2017

Building the connections for the Internet of Things (IoT) is challenging, since applications, services, and devices of all different shapes, sizes, an…

Read More

Dell Pushes IoT Boundaries with Latitude 7285

By: Steve Anderson    1/12/2017

Dell's new Latitude 7285 features WiTricity systems to work wirelessly, a principle similar to IoT operations.

Read More

Yahoo! Shakeup Drops Mayer, Changes Name

By: Steve Anderson    1/11/2017

Ahead of a sale to Verizon, Yahoo Inc. is poised to change its name, drop Marissa Mayer, and never be the same again.

Read More

How Amazon Reversed Microsoft's Strategy to Help Lenovo Create a Better Home AI

By: Rob Enderle    1/11/2017

At CES this past week, Lenovo made an interesting move by licensing the Alexa platform and building its own version of Amazon Echo called the "Smart A…

Read More

Will Space Exploration Soon Benefit from IoT Tech?

By: Kayla Matthews    1/11/2017

Apollo 11, the first spacecraft to successfully take human beings to the moon, had less computing power than the mobile phone you have in your pocket …

Read More