31 May 2007

Laughing rats?



Is this rat really laughing? or is it an unrelated reaction and we are anthropomorhising? I like to think it's the former

10 comments:

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Who says that all that noise is 'laughter' in response to tickling? I hate being tickled. I'm speculating that loosely translated that rat was saying, "F*CK OFF you rat-tickling pervert!"

jams o donnell said...

Indeed Ewbl, I hadn't thought of that although rat teeth are great ways to emphaise that point (beleive me I know what a rat bite is like - from university days...) THe not-wife cant bear to be tickled either.. she normally expresses her dislike by hitting me where I don't like to be hit (ie anywhere!)

Steve Bates said...

And yet... the rats did appear to seek out more human attention. Maybe they would have anyway. I'm not convinced that anything has been proven here, but taken all together, the rats' response is intriguing.

jams o donnell said...

I'm not sure they have proven it either. I would like to think ratty is having a chuckle but who knows? perhaps the response is a primitive one that developed into laughter in humans.

Matt M said...

That bloke claims to be a neuroscientist, yet the best test he can come up with is tickling and listening?

Something dodgy there.

Isn't there some way of checking the rats brain chemistry to see how it compares to human?

jams o donnell said...

The problem with that approach is that the brain is still to a fair extent plastered with "here be dragons" signs. Finding the centre that controls the response then recording activity is not going to be that easy... not at present anyway.

Some things are measured indirectly. For example the first exoplanets were identified by the "wobble" on the parent star rahter than by direct observation.

I thjink I will delve into the story a bit further.

Matt M said...

Fair point.

It's just that the video put me in mind of the the 'Cat Burglar' episode of The Simpsons:

Homer: "Aw, Dad. You've done a lot of great things, but you're a very old man now and old people are useless. (Sticks tickling Grampa) Aren't they? Aren't they? Huh? Yes they are! Yes they are! Tee hee."
Grampa: (laughs, then:) "Stop it! That's a form of abuse."

jams o donnell said...

Oh yes.. That was a funny scene. Ach I'd forgoten avout teh Simpsons now trhat I dont get Sky one on Cable (bloody Murdochs, thieving gits... )

Anonymous said...

Is no one going to try defining laughter first?

Anyhow, we get this from Tierney's article: "It seems to be a happy sound: rats will run mazes and press levers in order to be tickled, and they’ll emit the same chirp when the dopamine reward circuits in the brain are stimulated."
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/what-happens-when-you-tickle-a-rat-see-for-yourself/

jams o donnell said...

More to follow anonymous.