In rodent psychology news, rats are capable of feeling regret about their own decisions, in sharp contrast to the popular stereotype of rats as confident pests with high self-esteem.
Researchers set up a test called “Put a Bunch of Food on the Floor and Wait to See What Happens”, in which they put a bunch of food on the floor and waited to see what happened.
“It’s like waiting in line at the restaurant,” Professor David Redish of the Minnesota University* College of Rodent Whispering said. “If the line is too long at the Chinese restaurant, you start glaring at the idiot in front of you who asks if the Kung Pao shrimp were cage-fed. It’s the same thing here, only with disgusting vermin.”
In some cases, the rats decided to move on from one “restaurant” that offered nice food but was taking too long, only to find the next one offered more ambiance but had worse Yelp reviews. Faced with this scenario, the rats often scurried into the dumpster behind the deli on 3rd, or opened a wormhole (shown above) into a parallel universe where the service was better.
Professor Redish said they had to be careful to design the study so that they could interpret the random behavior of dumb animals in a way that would generate grant money.
“In humans, a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex, or regretebellum, is active during regret. Interestingly, the rat’s orbitofrontal cortex represented what the rat should have done, not the missed reward. Wait, I’m sorry, did I just say ‘Interestingly’? I don’t know what I was thinking. I must be light-headed from underfunding. Could someone pass me a grant?”
Zoomotionologists hope to expand their study to determine if coyotes experience consternation, wombats worry, or whether aardvarks are ambivalent.
In related news, the same study found that rat researchers are capable of feeling regret about their own decisions, an emotion that has never previously been found in any other researchers with government grants.
“Regret is the recognition that you made a mistake, that if you had done something else, you could have a lucrative career in goat-arousal studies, and not be stuck trying to measure rat emotions,” Redish said. “Please don’t tell my mom.”
* Not affiliated with the University of Minnesota, which is focused on determining whether gophers experience giddiness.
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