But how do the mice feel about missing a gene?

But how do the mice feel about missing a gene?

Jan 01, 2019 / By : / Category : 老域名购买

Research into the emotional and cognitive processes of other animals is a challenging thing, because you can't ask an animal what it's thinking at any given moment. Nevertheless, in recent years, evidence has piled up that indicates that many of the qualities once thought to be unique to humans, such as advanced planning and empathy for the needs of others exist in limited forms in other primates. Other works has found tentative indications that non-primates may share some of these traits. 老域名出售

The somewhat ambiguous evidence for empathy in non-primates are nicely summarized in a recent article that presents evidence that mice possess a specific form of empathy: they suffer when they see familiar mice in distress. The scientists subjected the mice to a painful procedure that caused a physical reaction, and placed a second mouse in a place where they could observe each other. Watching a mouse in pain was not enough to cause a physical response in a regular mouse, but when both mice were in pain, the response was significantly increased. This suggests that mice would have their display of distress enhanced by seeing others in distress.

By itself, that may not imply any emotional content, but the researchers also showed that familiarity with fellow mice enhanced the response even more: if mice had shared a cage prior to the procedure, they displayed even higher levels of pain-response behavior. A second protocol using a different trigger and resulting pain display showed that this form of empathy is not restricted to a single type of behavior. Mixing the stimuli, so that the two mice displayed different responses entirely, also confirmed the empathetic response.

The other result that stood out came when the mice were given two different doses of the pain stimulus. In these experiments, the effects averaged out: high dose animals responded less, while lower dosed mice acted as if they had received a slightly higher dose. Add it all up, and it looks like a mouse feels more distress when it sees another mouse in pain, and the situation is worse if it is familiar with that other mouse. The one thing the study wasn't able to detect was any display of distress in a mouse that wasn't subjected to pain, but it's possible that an examination of brain activity would reveal something that we can't detect by observation. All this, of course, would allow empathy to be assayed in the panel of mutant mice that are being developed, which we reported this morning.

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