Rats 'as good as humans' in decisions

2012-03-14 09:27
Washington - Rats are smart, that's a well known fact. But US researchers said a series of tests have shown they may be just as good as humans at juggling information in order to make the best decision.

The discovery could help scientists better understand how the brain works in order to help people with autism who have difficulty processing various stimuli the way that others can, said the study authors.

Scientists at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory ran tests that presented rats with a variety of sound and visual cues, and analysed how the rodents sifted through that information and recognised patterns in order to get a treat.

Comparing the rats to humans who were given similar tests, they found that both groups made decisions that were in line with the "statistically optimal" curve - in other words, the best way possible.

"Statistically optimal combination of multiple sensory stimuli has been well documented in humans, but many have been sceptical about this behaviour occurring in other species," said neuroscientist Anne Churchland, who led the study appearing in the March 14 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"Our work is the first demonstration of its occurrence in rodents."

Autism spectrum disorders

The findings suggest that the same evolutionary process may be at play in rats and humans that allows for sophisticated decision-making, and could offer a platform for study of autism spectrum disorders, the study said.

People with autism are often unable to choose which sensory stimuli to pay attention to and which to ignore, making commonplace events like going to the grocery store a potentially insufferable outing.

"We can use our rat model to 'look under the hood' to understand how the brain is combining multisensory information and be in a better position to develop treatments for these disorders in people," said Churchland.

Next, Churchland and colleagues plan to build on their research by studying the interaction of sensory experiences and memory.

"Now that we have a good animal model in which to investigate these questions, the world - or the brain - is our oyster," she said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    health
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.