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Psychotic Lab Mice 130

Posted by timothy
from the jury-of-their-peers dept.
meltoast writes "We send lab mice through a maze to see their reactions and then take that information and apply it to our knowledge of the human psyche. Well, what if those mice are completely out of their minds? Discover recently ran an article showing that mice kept in a standard laboratory environment may be crazy. 'In one sequence, a mouse climbs the stainless-steel walls of its cage, hangs from the ceiling by its forelegs while gnawing on the bars, then drops to the floor, only to repeat the process endlessly. On the other side of the cage, a second mouse performs backflips, one per second, for up to 30 minutes at a time.'"
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Psychotic Lab Mice

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... Go crazy?

    Don't mind if I do!!
  • by deek (22697) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:15PM (#6495318) Homepage Journal
    • How better to disguise their real natures, and how better to guide your thinking. Suddenly running down a maze the wrong way, eating the wrong bit of cheese, unexpectedly dropping dead of myxomatosis. If it's finely calculated the cumulative effect is enormous.


    Credits to D.Adams ... R.I.P
  • I've seen this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingPrad (518495) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:18PM (#6495332)
    I saw this with the gerbils I had for years. One would run endlessly on the treadwheel. The other would jump (gerbils can really jump!) and cling to the mesh top of the cage and chew at it. Eventually he actually managed to escape that way and run amok through the house for a bit. We put some stronger wire mesh on and that kept him inside. But I've definitely seen this with my gerbils and have a vague recollection of seeing it at a pet shop once.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the mice are insane from lack of stimulation. People get the same way when they're cooped up and take up all sorts of repetitive psychotic behaviors. It's a self-protection method for the brain I believe, keeping itself occupied in some endless task rather than concentrating on its continuously uninteresting environment and going crazy.

    I guess that would mean the mice are showing (possibly) insane behavior because the behavior is a a symptom of a deteriorating mind in a last-ditch effort to save itself.

    • One would run endlessly on the treadwheel.

      I hear that if you set up a treadwheel in the woods, normal mice, voles etc will use it!

      Perhaps its musine equivilant of hard drugs and the Great Musine Councel is running a War Against Treadwheels/p>

      • hear that if you set up a treadwheel in the woods, normal mice, voles etc will use it!

        But if a vole runs on a treadwheel in the woods, and no one is around to see it, is he really crazy?
    • People get the same way when they're cooped up and take up all sorts of repetitive psychotic behaviors. It's a self-protection method for the brain I believe, keeping itself occupied in some endless task rather than concentrating on its continuously uninteresting environment and going crazy.
      Are you talking about Slashdotters?
    • "It wouldn't surprise me if the mice are insane from lack of stimulation. People get the same way when they're cooped up and take up all sorts of repetitive psychotic behaviors. It's a self-protection method for the brain I believe, keeping itself occupied in some endless task rather than concentrating on its continuously uninteresting environment and going crazy."

      So that explains why I have over 2500 posts [slashdot.org] on slashdot ...

  • by DJayC (595440) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:18PM (#6495333)
    On the other side of the cage, a second mouse performs backflips, one per second, for up to 30 minutes at a time.

    In my back yard my sister performs flips on a trampoline for up to 60 minutes at a time. My brother jumps into a body of water, only to get out and do it again for up to 45 minutes at a time.

    My point is, unless you want to get inside of their head, or ask them why they are doing what they are doing, we can't say it's abnormal behavior. To an "alien in space" (who knows nothing of human "culture") someone jumping on a trampoline, or someone jumping into a pool over and over again may seem pointless and that we are out of our minds. Just a thought. I'm sure the mice are just keeping themselves busy.
    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:34PM (#6495437) Journal

      My point is, unless you want to get inside of their head, or ask them why they are doing what they are doing, we can't say it's abnormal behavior. To an "alien in space" (who knows nothing of human "culture") someone jumping on a trampoline, or someone jumping into a pool over and over again may seem pointless and that we are out of our minds. Just a thought. I'm sure the mice are just keeping themselves busy.

      Don't human psychiatric workers keep track of how many times their inmates masturbate as a measure of frustration and stress? And don't soldiers who are exposed to heavy enemy fire on a daily basis usually succumb to self-manipulation 10+ times a day?

      So are these mice jerking themselves silly or what? Just doing flips over and over isn't a sure sign of going nutso. Maybe they're just staying in shape! But if these cameras are capturing these mice reaching down between their legs a lot (or maybe rubbing their groins against every object in their cage), then I think we have a rock-solid case!

      GMD

      • And don't soldiers who are exposed to heavy enemy fire on a daily basis usually succumb to self-manipulation 10+ times a day?
        You wouldn't happen to have a cite ready, would you?
        Also, pr0n [gayimages.net] does not constitute a suitible citation.
    • by egomaniac (105476) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:59PM (#6495590) Homepage
      Three points of note:

      A) These activities consume up to half of the creatures' waking hours, every single day.

      B) The affected animals also exhibit other deficiencies and obsessive behaviors.

      C) The entire lifestyle of these creatures is wildly altered by the addition of something as simple as a cardboard tube to their cages.

      I hardly think that an hour on a trampoline every now and then is even remotely similar.
      • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:13PM (#6495655) Journal

        Hmmm. It's scary how many of these behaviors also apply to slashdot trolls:

        A) These activities consume up to half of the creatures' waking hours, every single day.

        I'm sure they spend about half their time in front of the computer either reading, posting, or thinking of new offensive, off-topic things to say on slashdot.

        B) The affected animals also exhibit other deficiencies and obsessive behaviors.

        You mean like hitting "refresh" on the slashdot home page every 1-2 minutes so they can get first post?

        C) The entire lifestyle of these creatures is wildly altered by the addition of something as simple as a cardboard tube to their cages.

        The entire day of these creatures is wildly altered by something as simple as a fellow slashdotter replying to their message, not realizing it wasn't serious.

        GMD

      • by ChowyChow (149961) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:46PM (#6495819) Homepage
        C) The entire lifestyle of these creatures is wildly altered by the addition of something as simple as a cardboard tube to their cages.

        If you were trapped on an 10x10 meter island with nothing but a coconut tree and did not know of 'civilization' what would you do?

        Then, what would you do if we added Natalie Portman to your island?? (hot grits included) Yea, that's what I thought.
        • You noted: Then, what would you do if we added Natalie Portman to your island?? (hot grits included) Yea, that's what I thought.

          Oddly enough, that's just what the dissenter quoted in the article said:

          "There are differences in behavior between mice raised in standard versus enriched housing, but which are 'better' or 'normal' cannot be straightforwardly answered. Mus musculus, the house mouse, has been raised in 'barren' laboratory cages for hundreds of generations, where most breed quite well, and it sh
      • I work in a avian cognition lab, and we have many pigeons.

        Most animals never display this type of behavior. There are a sad few that do - they develop tics from being kept in captivity. I'm not advocating removing animals from their natural environment, but our pigeons are kept quite well.

        Our bird (Matisse) constantly pecks at the back-side of his food dish. If you walk in the room, he'll look up at you and stop for a few minutes, and then go back to doing this. He doesn't do it all day, but he does it qu
      • Three points of note:

        A) These activities consume up to half of the creatures' waking hours, every single day.

        B) The affected animals also exhibit other deficiencies and obsessive behaviors.

        C) The entire lifestyle of these creatures is wildly altered by the addition of something as simple as a cardboard tube to their cages.


        So, what you are saying is the mice are playing Quake? I read nothing about that, I need to go back and reread.
    • To an "Human in space" (who knows nothing of geek "culture") someone coding on a program, or someone compiling over and over again may seem pointless and that we are out of our minds. Just a thought. I'm sure slashdot-ers are just keeping themselves busy.
  • Cubefarm (Score:5, Funny)

    by limekiller4 (451497) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:22PM (#6495358) Homepage
    This behavior bears a disturbing resemblance to my former cubefarm cellmates.
    • Re:Cubefarm (Score:4, Funny)

      by Alethes (533985) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:35PM (#6495444)
      meltoast writes "We send employees through a cubicle farm to see their reactions and then take that information and apply it to our knowledge of the human psyche. Well, what if those employees are completely out of their minds? Discover recently ran an article showing that employees kept in a cubicle environment may be crazy. 'In one sequence, an employee climbs the cloth-covered walls of his cubicle, hangs from the false ceiling by his hands while gnawing on the frame, then drops to the floor, only to repeat the process endlessly. On the other side of the room, a second employee makes copies, one per second, for up to 30 minutes at a time.'"
      • Re:Cubefarm (Score:3, Insightful)

        by clambake (37702)
        meltoast writes "We send employees through a cubicle farm to see their reactions and then take that information and apply it to our knowledge of the human psyche. Well, what if those employees are completely out of their minds? Discover recently ran an article showing that employees kept in a cubicle environment may be crazy. 'In one sequence, an employee climbs the cloth-covered walls of his cubicle, hangs from the false ceiling by his hands while gnawing on the frame, then drops to the floor, only to repe
  • How some stories can make past their rejection process....but anyways...

    When he reviewed the videotape, Würbel saw something reminiscent of home movies made at a psychiatric hospital. In the dark, the mice performed the same useless tasks repeatedly, with such a compulsive persistence that Würbel couldn't help but think something had gone awry in their brains. In one sequence, a mouse climbs the stainless-steel walls of its cage, hangs from the ceiling by its forelegs while gnawing on the bars,
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Key words: "In one sequence."

      And as someone pointed out above, they perform these tasks for hours. IANAPsychologist, but I know that useless behaviors which bear no fruit should eventually be ceased by anything capable of learning.

    • How some stories can make past their rejection process....but anyways...

      Perhaps the /. editors actually read the article before making a snap judgement about it. It was actually very interesting and contained a lot of other information supporting the argument that lab rats might be psychotic.
    • How some stories can make past their rejection process....but anyways...

      How some people can miss the point of an article so wildly... but anyway...

      since this was done in the dark and the mouse didn't know that it was "stainless steel" bar, it was probably trying to escape...

      They continued to do this activity for hour upon hour, day upon day, week upon week. While you might have a point for that one stereotypic behaviour trait, the same observation doesn't work for mouse back-flipping or running in ci

    • Rodents will gnaw on cage bars, etc, in order to keep their teeth filed down. If not, they can grow too long, or get ingrown I believe, which can be painful and sometimes fatal if not treated. For rodents that are in a cage without bars (aquarium glass, or whatever) I recommend making sure they have a block to chew on. Per stores tend to carry them

      Oh, and as a side-note... falling of the top was probably just the result of a thing called gravity. Even an agile rodent hanging off their would get heady/tire
  • NO!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by JDWTopGuy (209256) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:35PM (#6495447) Homepage Journal
    The mice have gone crazy? Oh rats!
    • Re:NO!!! (Score:3, Funny)

      by clambake (37702)
      The mice have gone crazy? Oh rats!

      If the mice have gone nuts, what happens to the squirrels? They become cheesy?
  • Crazy? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tyrdium (670229) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:48PM (#6495524) Homepage
    On the other side of the cage, a second mouse performs backflips, one per second, for up to 30 minutes at a time.
    Nah, it was just training for the Olympics...
  • ZOIT! NARF! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Glytch (4881) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:29PM (#6495739)
    I think so, Brain, but who'd want to watch Snow White and the Seven Samurai?
  • Normal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AllMightyPaul (553038) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:44PM (#6495811)
    I had a hampster for about two years (it died) and it would spend its entire day either on the wheel or gnawing at the cage trying to get out. It's not psychosis, it's just animals trying to escape from their cages. What he described the mouse doing - hanging from the cage, gnawing, dropping, and doing it all over again - is exactly what my hampster would do in her vain attempt to climb out the hole in the top of our cage. They're almost like velociraptors, testing all the weaknesses in the cage, looking for a way out... except my hampster tested the same weakness over and over again. She wasn't that smart, I don't think.
    • 1) Hamster has no 'p'.
      2) Real velociraptors (or whatever dinosaur they based the movie on) didn't live in cages.

      (GRAMMAR NAZI IN TRAINING)
    • Re:Normal? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Iainuki (537456)
      These behaviors may indeed begin as attempts to escape. However, they are not. The animals persist in them even though their situation doesn't change. Imagine if you were locked in a room proportional to your size in the same ratio as these mice are. You, initially, might try to escape by searching the floors, the walls, and the ceiling for openings, panels, locks, or doors. You might do this three or four times to make sure you didn't miss anything on the previous passes. However, the analogy to the
      • Imagine if you were locked in a room proportional to your size in the same ratio as these mice are. You, initially, might try to escape by searching the floors, the walls, and the ceiling for openings, panels, locks, or doors. You might do this three or four times to make sure you didn't miss anything on the previous passes. However, the analogy to the behaviors of these mice would be compulsively searching the surfaces of your prison for about eight hours a day (~50% of your waking time) every day for twen
        • So apparently you missed the bit later in the article that positively correlated said repetitive and maladadaptive bahaviour with a decreased capacity for learning, or amplification of the pathology of various disorders/toxicities(lead, uranium, huntingtons dx mice). But overall (from what i've read thus far) generally you're missing the point (no offense intended of course:), the point of this entire article is that these mice may not live lives congruent with human lives, not because mice and humans are
  • by NetFusion (86828) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:50PM (#6495844)
    They're Pinky and The Brain
    Yes, Pinky and The Brain
    One is a genius
    The other's insane.
    They're laboratory mice
    Their genes have been spliced
    They're dinky
    They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
    Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
    Brain.

    Before each night is done
    Their plan will be unfurled
    By the dawning of the sun
    They'll take over the world.

    They're Pinky and The Brain
    Yes, Pinky and The Brain
    Their twilight campaign
    Is easy to explain.
    To prove their mousey worth
    They'll overthrow the Earth
    They're dinky
    They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
    Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
    Narf!
  • Abused mice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitGeek (19506) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:41PM (#6496138) Homepage

    Its not uncommon for mice to wheel-- its akin to a kid riding a block. They get rid of excess energy and its fun for them.

    ITs also not uncommon for mice to climb cages and knaw on the bars-- they don't know they aren't wood, and this is also fun behaviour.

    But Backflips--or in other cases - random jumps are a sign of serious stress. As I understand it, in these laboratory situations they keep dozens of mice in a tiny area-- and mice are a socially sensitive animal. That is to say, they react to overcrowding, have stress, etc.

    I think these mice are being abused, and the people doing it should go to hell. Fucking assholes. You're going to experiment on mice, its your responsibility to treat them decently.

    Mice are like any common pet-- they react to pain, can be scared, can be stressed and need some private space.
    • Its not uncommon for mice to wheel-- its akin to a kid riding a block.

      Man, that takes me back... Me and my block, just sitting there, riding around, you know. It was 100% concrete with two large holes in the side, you know, just your typical old cinder block, but boy could it move. Ahhh, good times.
    • Until you've actually seen what goes on in a research lab you should keep your uninformed mouth shut. People don't want to give more tax money to scientists anyway, so what do you expect them to do -- house the mice in the fucking ritz on their own dime (which ain't much)? So if you don't like the way it's done, go live in some third world country with no drugs and no benefits learned from the research done on mice and see how much you like it when you're dying of some fucked up disease.
      • Re:Abused mice... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Some Woman (250267) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:44PM (#6500670) Journal
        what do you expect them to do -- house the mice in the fucking ritz on their own dime (which ain't much)?

        There are ways to ensure that your lab animals have a pleasant environment without spending a lot of money. When I worked in the animal facility at my college, they had many small rooms instead of one large room. I don't know how sensitive to overcrowding mice and rats are, but we usually had no more than 40 rats in any given room (1 large or 2 small per cage excepting for nursing mothers).

        Another consideration is the level and quality of stimuli. If the animals are kept in an environment with loud noises or bright lights, they might not respond too kindly. Also- were the animals in the article subject to frequent playful human contact (not of the latex glove variety)? Part of my job was to play with the animals so that they wouldn't become attention deprived.

        All I know is that I never observed this "psychotic" behavior in our lab rats and mice, so something had to be working.
        • While it would certainly be preferable for animal subjects to get extra attention and stimuli, this would be a very difficult task for large universities or research centers, which typically have thousands and thousands of mice. No University would allocate money for a position to "play with the mice" (with the exception probably of work study students in psych departments), not to mention it would take a lot of people to interact with all of the mice on frequent occasions. I have observed psychotic behavio

          • You're contradicting yourself... you advocate overcrowding to "save money" and at the same time worry about contaminating the mice?

            Overcrowding causes sick mice-- hell that's the subject of the freaking article!

            You're a mouse abuser and you should be subjected to the same abuse. There's no reason for it-- your complaints about "Cost" are the typical excuse to justify laziness.

            Its extremely cheap to provide mice with sufficient space and facilities to lead a reasonable life-- and your research results wo
            • First off, if you think in silico experiments have reached a place where they are more informative than in situ experiments than you clearly don't much about science.

              In response to your other points, researchers don't just simply stick as many mice together as possible. What we do is governed by rules and overseen by the government. For example, we don't put more than four male mice in one cage (about the size of a size 10 shoe box) or five female mice. Furthermore, crowding (if it were to occur, which it


              • If you think you've presented an argument ,you don't know anyhting about logic.

                Clearly you're not a scientist...

                But I do find it amusing that two people who claim to be working in labs are calling me uninformed and saying exactly opposite things!

                But your ignorance is pretty wide an deep- mice don't have instincts? You don't even know what instincts are?

                Why is slashdot full of idiotsl ike you? Where do the people who actually learned to think hang out? I want to go there.
                • Clearly you don't take the time read into the meanings of statements. Of course when I said the mice the don't have the instincts I didn't mean they don't have any instincts. Regardless of semantics, these mice do not behave like wild mice. Period.

                  As far as idiots on slashdot, why don't you try and write something that actually contributes to the discussion instead of just being a troll? If you could stop trying to show off what you know about philosphy and simply look at what I wrote it would be obvious


                  • Excpet that with every post, I make my case, I prove it, etc.

                    You are apparently just able to call me names. Not even original ones at that.

                    Boring.
        • were the animals in the article subject to frequent playful human contact

          You're joking, right? Please god tell me you're fucking joking. They're MICE. They're going to be shot full of some god-awful chemical to see if they grow giant throbbing tumors. Someone is planning to shoot Clairol into their eyes just to see what happens next. They will have their heads shaved and opened wide so we can poke their naked brains with wires. All the play-time in the fucking world isn't going to make them happy, well-a

          • It doesn't do anybody any good to have psychotic lab mice. If they need human contact (once a week per animal was our minimum) in order to retain their sanity, consider that a cost of experimentation. Your data isn't going to be any good if the subjects are under unnecessary stress. (It's been fairly well demonstrated that psychological conditions affect physical health, and anything else you might want to study.)
          • > They're MICE. [ ... ] All the play-time in the fucking world isn't going to make them happy, well-adjusted woodland bunnies.

            They're MICE. It takes serious gene spicing to turn 'em into woodland bunnies, happy or not.

        • Damn, but that is a good counter example. 40 rats to a room (if by room you mean 20inch by 20 inch box) is too many, but you could mean a much bigger room.

          Typical for these labs is about 40 mice to a 18 inc by 24 inch cage.... and that is far too many... they can't even find ground to stand on some of them, because they more than cover the floor of the cage.

          Glad to hear you played with them... I think rats need that more than mice.
          • By room I mean a closed off room that holds a fraction of the animal cages instead of a large lab area housing all of the animals. It's a little cosier, plus they aren't disturbed at night. Each cage was 8 inches by 12 inches and only held one or two adult rats (or 4 mice).

            I think rats need that more than mice.

            The rats were actually handled on a schedule (at least once per week per animal) because they need attention more than mice, while people would play with the mice at their convenience.

      • Hey, I'm all for scientific researhc-- that is research not funded by tax money. Its that tax money research that produces no drugs, you silly person.

        Abusing mice isn't a good way to test drugs, better to treat them decently... this doesn't require the mouse-ritz, just rational caging and a intro-to-veterinary school understanding of hte animal you're fucking observing. That should not be too much to ask.

        But, invariably, it is thoe government funded, poorly thought out, mice abusing hellholes that treat

    • Ahem. I knew a girl who worked in a lab on her way to becoming a doctor. They were working on nerve damage and regeneration.

      So to damage the nerves of the mice (or rats...I forget) she would break their spines.

      They're lab mice. Their soul purpose for existing is to be experimented on. Giving them cancer, etc is not treating them decently.
    • Actually, a lone mouse is more stressed than a mouse put with other mice. I'm one of the "fucking assholes" that work with mice, and have for about 7 years. You have obviously never been in an animal facility, and have never even glanced at the guidelines for rodent housing. The only time you have a dozen animals in a small area is when 11 of them are less than weaning age (and it's uncommon for a litter to get that big).

      If you have just 5 mice in one cage, you get nasty notes from the care staff. If you le


      • God, you should go read a book about mice, you fucking asshole.

        Mice need a place to hide. They do not like overcrowding.

        When they are kept apart, they do not get more stressed. Yes, when they can smell other mice but not see them-- what you'd do in the poor lab conditions you guys keep-- that would stress them. But being alone isn't inherently stressful.

        But you're right about one thing-- you are one of those fucking assholes abusing mice. And so typical of slashdot, you have no morality and so you thi
        • you have no morality and so you think nothing of it. Go to hell.

          Talk about typical of Slashdot.....

          • On the contrary, I know what I'm talking about. The typical slashdot poster-- yourself-- has no clue.

            You should realize that there are people out there that actually have experience in the subject. Not all of us are idiot script kiddies like yourself.
  • by wowbagger (69688) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:44PM (#6496158) Homepage Journal
    Hanging from the top of the cage - you mean, like a pull-up?

    Turning backflips...

    "Now this one's a strange case. She claim a machine from the future, called a Terminator, came back to kill her."
    Hiya Doc. How's the knee.
  • by mellon (7048) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:27PM (#6496411) Homepage
    Gnawing on the top of the cage is a lot more fun than gnawing on the sides. Mice have to gnaw on something hard to cut their teeth - otherwise they get too big - rodent teeth grow continuously. As for backflips, well, if you could do backflips all afternoon, and you had nothing better to do, would you or would you not do backflips?

    These mice aren't crazy. They just need some entertainment!
  • by Serra (42794) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:35AM (#6496665)
    There was a point in the article when it occured to me that the phrase, "Research causes cancer in laboratory rats." was not a joke.
  • by Deanasc (201050) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:55AM (#6496750) Homepage Journal
    Is to handle each mouse weekly so that handling during experiments doesn't stress them out. I've been in rooms of hundreds of mice caged 3 to a feederbox and sorted by age and sex. The behaviors mentioned are few and far between unless they're beeing inbred or are knock outs that are more prone to psychosis.
  • boo (Score:2, Funny)

    by lemody (588908)
    'boo the space hamster' wasn't nuts. only his (her?) owner was!
  • It seems the sense of freedom is important for all animals alike. Humans and mice. I'd react quite strongly to being locked into a room for a long time. Sure I'd try to escape. Sure It'd turn into an "escape ritual" if it'd be hopeless. Sure I'd be digging the tunnel, even though I "knew" It'd never work.

    Prison is far better. People can have hobbies and visitors etc etc.

    Sure the mice are acting crazy. But does that mean they'd have a permanent mental flaw? I don't think so. I believe the craziness arise

  • by DarkDust (239124) <marc@darkdust.net> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @04:51AM (#6497471) Homepage

    and I bet this applies to rats as well (which are, biological, just very big mice). I have some pet rats [darkdust.net] and a big cage, but normally they just run around in my living room... and they really love to run around.

    When I have them in their cage for more than, say, three days they grab their bars like some prisoners and stare at me with very sad eyes :-) After some days they can really get depressed.

    So now normally mice and rat cages in laboratories are way smaller than mine is (I know since a friend of mine works in a laboratory with rats). And they are not allowed to run around. When my rats get depressed after a few days, then I have no doubt most mice/rats get crazy after some months.

    Imagine having nothing more than your living room to walk around, your whole life... oh wait, we geeks know that very well ;-)

  • Tip of the iceberg.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deggy (195861) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @05:09AM (#6497524) Homepage
    This kind of thing is happening all the time and increasingly so around the world.
    A few years ago a lab in the UK admitted that most of it's results were flawed because of some permanent contamination within it's main testing machine, and they had been for several years.
    I also remember a case where cells grown in culture and used around the world were discovered to be the wrong kind (liver instead of lung?) after the research had been going on for 10 years or so, wasting billions in money and years of work.
    It's unherently unsound doing research on a captive, interbread population. You wouldn't trust it in humans - so why is it OK in animals and cultures?
    • by NekoXP (67564)
      > It's unherently unsound doing research on a
      > captive, interbread population. You wouldn't
      > trust it in humans - so why is it OK in animals
      > and cultures?

      Being captive and interbred means you can control
      and predict certain factors of the research, which
      is pretty essential in research.

      If you had 100 randomly born mice and tried to
      test a cancer drug on them, probably a very small
      number of them would get cancer before they died
      at the end of their very, very short lives.

      If you engineer 100 mice
    • Besides just being suspiciously vague and unlikely, and being completely unsupported by any citation whatsoever, neither of your examples have even a little bit to do with the article. A lab machine was contaminated? Somebody ordered the wrong kind of cells for ten years running, on a project with, apparently, hundreds of millions of dollars in annual funding?

      Um, yeah.

      And this is related to psycho mice how, again?

  • Possible solution? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clambake (37702) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @05:24AM (#6497565) Homepage
    I would think it would be possible to build a plastic maze with slowly shifting walls. Built into the maze would be sensors that shift the walls of the maze when there are no mice in that area. Then you drop all your mice in different areas and there you go, endless halways to run through. The mice don't ever even have to cross paths, so it's just like a cage, but it is never the same twice so there is always something to do. Sometimes mice would be herded into a "play room", sometimes to a "food room", etc. No more crazymice. It would also be neat to watch in action.
  • Only me? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mopatop (690958) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @06:14AM (#6497676) Homepage
    On the other side of the cage, a second mouse performs backflips, one per second, for up to 30 minutes at a time.

    Did anyone else think of making a clock with this

    Only me? Okay then...
  • easy fix (Score:3, Funny)

    by AssFace (118098) <stenz77.gmail@com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @07:03AM (#6497813) Homepage Journal
    The mice are just bored.

    If you want to give them something to do, just put a housecat in there with them.

    QED
  • by ravenousbugblatter (682061) <ravenousbugblatter@yahoo.com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:27AM (#6498488)
    Having worked in a lab that uses mice for more than 2 years now I found this articel particularly interesting (immunology research). I've noticed odd behavior in our mice before - such as running in circles or pulling their fur out - but it seems to occur most predominantly when mice are housed alone.

    It is certainly important to gain more insight into this issue, but it is a very complicated one. The vast majority of researchers are fairly limited in funding, and the costs of maintaining colonies of mice is already very expensive (for example, at my institution caring for about 300-500 mice is around $4000-$5000 per month). While there is probably much validity to Wurbel's argument, it unfortunately becomes a question of cost -- enriched housing conditions would probably be out of the limits of most researchers budgets. Scientists should probably settle on a happy medium - those doing research into behavior should definitely consider these issues; however, they may be less essential for researchers trying to understand the functions of specific genes known to be involved in processes other than neural ones, because the cost would simply be too high.

    • ...they may be less essential for researchers trying to understand the functions of specific genes known to be involved in processes other than neural ones ...

      However, that assumes the researchers understand all the variables involved. For example, reports keep coming out about the link between stress and depressed immune response. Thus studying a disease on stressed mice would actually skew your results. Gene function may be susceptible to environmental triggers of which stress and madness might be fa
      • I never meant to suggest that stress would not affect things like immune responses. My point was that, as sort of a cost/benefit analysis, it wouldn't make sense for many researchers to take the steps to give mice more interactive environments. Keep in mind that I'm viewing the issue in a reductionist manner. For example, I am interested in what gene X does. So I ablate its function in some mice but not others. All of the mice will be in the same environment, and therefore will be effected the same by lack
  • by jpsst34 (582349) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @09:49AM (#6498631) Journal
    ...all day causes repetitive behaviour.

    Oooh! New story on /. The article is too long.
    Oooh! New story on /. The article is too long.
    Oooh! New story on /. The article is too long.
    Oooh! New story on /. The article is too long.
    ...
  • I think WB must have done a similar study before creating Pinky & The Brain. Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight? The same thing we do every night Pinky... Backflips and chew on the bars!!
  • I don't work with mice, but I'd like to point out that back in the old days (a couple of years ago) when I worked at NIH, our living conditions were worse than those of the lab animals. We had less space per animal by a long shot, and the air quality was much worse. Our work conditions weren't regulated by OSHA.

    I know I sure saw some behavior that could be characterized as psychotic. There was definite pacing in small circles. Running around and shouting happened frequently. Repetitive behaviors such

  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @11:43AM (#6499853) Homepage Journal
    This is one of the best articles I've read in a long time, and I'm sure I'll have an intelligent comment later. But for now, here's this summary:

    mouse
    mice mice mice mice mice
    mouse
    mice mice mice mice mice
    mouse
    mice mice mice mice mice
    mouse
    mice mice mice mice mice
    mouse
    mice mice mice mice mice
    mouse
    mice mice mice mice mice
    mouse
    mice mice mice mice mice
    mouse

    And at the bottom:
    © Copyright 2003 The Walt Disney Company
  • by krysith (648105) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @11:57AM (#6500025) Journal
    "Don't know the date
    Don't know the time
    The lab rats are insane
    And I fear that I'll be next..."

    -The Changelings "Parallax"
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:04PM (#6500101) Homepage
    ...which is why there is a cultural divide between two approaches to the study of animal behavior.

    The "American psychological tradition," exemplified by Watson, Lashley, B. F. Skinner, etc. emphasizes the study of animals which are almost domesticated for lab use, and bred for genetic uniformity. The studies are done under carefully "controlled" laboratory conditions which are highly unnatural for the animal. The positive aspect of this approach is that it fits well with the scientific method, and the studies are relatively easy to interpret and repeat. A lot of the studies tend to be directed at intelligence and problem-solving.

    Unfortunately, the behavior of animals in captivity IS just plain weird. I'd never seen it described as "psychotic" before, but there is a certain Heisenberg-like effect: the effort to put animals in situations where their behavior can be studied with full scientific rigor causes their behavior to change.

    The "ethological tradition," exemplified by Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, Donald Griffin, etc. emphasizes the behavior of natural populations of animals in natural or naturalistic settings. It is a biologist's approach rather than a psychologist's, and emphasizes evolutionary relationships. Social aspects are perhaps studied more than problem-solving.

    Ethology may be a little softer and less rigorous. In the last decade, the phrase "cognitive ethology" has come into vogue and you will find cognitive ethologists using the word "consciousness" out loud and unafraid.

    Obviously my personal sympathies are with the ethologists, but both traditions have yielded valuable scientific results.
    • I have a real difficulty with your use of the phrase "American psychological tradition" there. I'd suggest that Skinner would say people could easily be reinforced and trained if you could find reasonable reinforcers, like their animal counterparts. Of course, this is an affront to everyone's concept of free will.

      On the other hand, what I would consider to be the "American psychological tradition" at the moment seems to say that people can't be controlled and therefore that you shouldn't try. So things
  • is that they will become smart and read the "lift latch to open" sign on their cages. Then there will be a little paw sticking out of a cage and opening it. Next thing you know, you'll have a race of intelligent rats and mice living in your rose bush stealing electricity from your house, causing all kinds of trouble for you and your cat Dragon. It's all prophesized here [amazon.com].
  • Please remember to put some flowers on Algernons grave.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce

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