When properly motivated, not only will rats drive cars, they will seem more relaxed after doing so, finds a recent psychology experiment published in Behavioural Brain Research.

Rodent operated vehicles

If we want animals to engage in more complex behavioral tasks, it is important to have enriched environments. That may include humans, if we want to improve therapies for neurodegenerative disease and psychiatric illness. In the meantime, the "rat race" just got a whole lot more interesting.

Credit: Kelly Lambert/University of Richmond

The experiment involved a tiny container on wheels and Fruit Loops. They steered with three copper bars, which is actually more advanced than an old military tank, if you are old enough to have driven those. By increasing the distance to the food, the animals gradually learned to drive better.

Since dehydroepiandrosterone/corticosterone (DHEA/CORT) metabolite ratios in fecal samples increased when trained, the authors conclude that driving training makes rats ... happier.

Driving doesn't make me happy, but I will be happy to let a rat or an AI be in charge of my transportation if that is the winner that the free market picks.