March 7th, 2020| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


You might have to think twice before you call someone a “rat!”

“Harm to Others Acts as a Negative Reinforcer in Rats” announced researchers from the Netherlands in Current Biology last week.

Apparently, rats avoid harming other rats! They have—wait for it!—empathy!

The scientists trained 24 rats of both sexes to push two different levers to get a treat, until the animals developed a preference for one lever. Then these sadomasochistic investigators (!) turned things around for these rodents so that when a rat pressed its favorite lever and got its candy, a neighboring rat would get an electric shook in its foot!

Well, guess what? When these animals heard their fellow rodents squeal in protest, they immediately stopped pushing the preferred lever and switched to the less-preferred one, which still delivered a piece of candy.

Harm aversion, as it is called, is a well-known human trait regulated by a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Apparently, further experiments demonstrated that the rats’ ACC controlled this behavior in these rodents, too—the first time scientists ACC has been implicated in harm aversion in a non-human species.

Said Christian Keysers, the senior author on the report:

This likeness between human and rat brains is super-exciting for two reasons. For one, it suggests that preventing harm to others is rooted deep in mammals’ evolutionary history. What’s more, the finding could have a real impact on people suffering from psychiatric disorders such as psychopathy and sociopathy, whose anterior cingulate cortexes are impaired. We currently have no effective drugs to reduce violence in antisocial populations; so figuring out how to increase such patients’ aversion to hurting others could be a powerful tool.”

That rats and humans share the same part of the brain that regulates harm aversion is interesting.

Reported National Geographic:

Humans and rodents have similar brain structures that regulate empathy, suggesting the behavior is deeply rooted in mammal evolution.”

Another experiment Keysers and his team conducted clinched their findings. Employing anesthesia they temporarily numbed the ACC of rats that had demonstrated harm aversion. And—voila!—these ACC-numbed animals stopped feeling so empathetic!

Clearly humans, created in the image of God, are hardwired to love like God. (Rats, created by the same Creator, may have hardwired structures that resemble those of humans.)

We love, because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Or as Jesus said:

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:13

Of course, since the fall of mankind, everything has been warped, including our abilities to image God—to love and empathize, among other things.

Yup, even rats have limits to empathy. When the researchers repeated the experiment with the lever producing three candies (instead of one), the rats seemed to have lost their “empathy”!

More candy? Well, who cares if you get shocked, my friend? Candy wins, any day!

The one who says he is in the Light and hates his fellow Christian is in the darkness.
1 John 2:9

Everyone who hates his fellow believer is a murderer;
and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 3:15

But not so the one saved by faith through the grace of God in Christ who paid the price for our sins. Such a one, no longer in darkness or in death, is being restored daily in the image of God.

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love our fellow believers.
The one who does not love remains in death.
1 John 3:14

So? Be a rat!


National Geographic

Share Your Thoughts

Copyright © 2012 Homiletix  |  Blog theme by ThemeShift customized by Gurry Design  |  Full sitemap