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Science Idle

Scientists' Mouse Fight Club 193

An anonymous reader writes "To study how aggression, fighting, and winning change the brain, scientists set up a tournament of mice fights. They watched as the lab rodents took a break from their hum-drum existence and battled it out (however, the researchers broke the first rule of Fight Club by publishing a paper about their findings [abstract]). They found clear evidence of the 'winner effect,' in which a mouse that has just won a fight maintains elevated levels of testosterone and aggression, and is therefore more likely to win the next bout. Interestingly, the winner effect was strongest in mice that were fighting in their own cages — i.e., those that had home-field advantage."
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Scientists' Mouse Fight Club

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  • Men... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:42PM (#32828700)

    "How a society channels male aggression is one of the greatest questions as to whether that society will survive. That's why I am not against violence in the media, I am against the glorification of immoral violence."
    -- Dennis Prager

    • Re:Women... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:46PM (#32828734)
      I think it would do society some good to take the blinders off and have a look at female aggression and it's consequences...
      • Re:Women... (Score:5, Funny)

        by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:00PM (#32828926) Journal
        I think it would do society some good to take the blinders off and have a look at female aggression and it's consequences...

        Cat Fight!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Female aggression only happens when women are empowered. I guess we should disenfranchise them again. (That's a joke, son.)

        But more seriously, when people are given the latitude to be aggressive, you'll see a spectrum of responses. Some people can handle power responsibly, others get drunk with it and start thumping people with little provocation or cause. Systems are supposed to be designed such that abusers are culled, but it seems that just as frequently a given system of authority closes ranks and de
        • Re:Women... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:12PM (#32829082)

          However there's no cause to single out genders/races/ages/etc. because such categories only go so far in explaining what are ultimately individual motivations.

          Since women appear to manifest aggression in very different ways than men (although increasingly exactly like men as an additional mode) it seems like a very worthwhile to single out the genders. For one thing female aggression largely goes unnoticed (or just plain denied) by society and consequently their victims are usually unnoticed as well.

          • It depends on how one defines 'aggression'. Physically where women are effectively aggressive, there is no real difference. Primarily because as you allude it is a learned behavior from men. A lot of generations are going to pass before women have anything to teach men about physical aggression which has been the bread and butter province of men since prehistory.

            If you're talking about some kind of emotional or social aggression, you're simply looking at the momentum from a social adaptation that was natu
            • There is nothing inherently good or bad about a gender.

              No one said there was. Although you are just making an assertion - one which may or may not be true.

              You know you seem to be making a big effort to excuse the violence women commit and perpetuate as not being worth examination. Unfortunately that is not surprising. Like I said society would benefit from taking the blinders off. Violence is only a concern if it is "effective"...? I don't think so. And of course it's men's fault... "learned behaviour from

              • The primary reason that women have more latitude is because they are less effective. They lack the upper body strength, the hormonal response, the reflexes, and the combat cunning that a male possesses (being almost exclusively responsible for physical conflict in human society for thousands of years kind of helps to promote certain physiological conditions). The average man could beat the average woman literally senseless without too much effort. It is because of this that society has conditioned men to tu
                • by Zerth ( 26112 )

                  I said that it was learned from men because men are experts

                  Wow, that's sexist.

                  • It's reality (though I suspect you may be making a joke). Virtually every soldier before the modern era was male. Combat is a masculine expertise. There is no implied morality to that. Men have used their skills of combat to defend as well as attack, to stop violence as well as initiate it. Violence is not inherently immoral. Anybody who believes otherwise is a fool.
                    • by Zerth ( 26112 )

                      I never stated or implied that violence was immoral, I merely stated that claiming violence was a primarily male domain was sexist.

                      Many proto-russian, pre-historic persian, and celtic women(all cultures who buried women with hand weapons) would disagree with you, if they weren't millennia dead. Not to mention examples of other species where females are more territorial, violent, or aggressive than the males. Insects especially.

                • as the history of the abuse of women demonstrates

                  We of course have no history of the abuse of men and children by women because people don't want to look at that. Even the suggestion that it be looked at brings on posts like yours attempting to discourage and - quite evidently -blame men. Oh that darn patriarchy! And by the way being less effective" (another assertion) is not an excuse.

                  You're deciding to read my opinions as excusing of female violence, which I said nothing of the kind.

                  Really? It isn't

                  • I really don't understand what you're trying to do. I'm saying that existing behaviors and social norms (for both genders) evolved for explainable reasons. You keep beating this drum that this is 'justification' and an 'excuse' and such bullshit. You seem to be motivated by assigning blame, and consequently you are determined to project your own motivations onto others about assigning blame. I'm not blaming men and exculpating women, but that's what you want to see so you see it, otherwise you wouldn't have
                • ... the upper body strength, the hormonal response, the reflexes, and the combat cunning that a male possesses ...

                  On /. ??? Seriously? =]

                  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

                    and it totally ignores that humans are not restricted to using only their limbs for combat. A woman with a baseball bat could beat up most unarmed men rather easily.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by TheCarp ( 96830 )

                  I don't tend to have the same view exactly, but, I have had a small amount of martial arts training (couple of years in a couple of styles, nothing too serious), and so, I have been exposed to women trained to fight, and they are every bit a mans equal when trained (making allowances for size and strength, but those advantages can be somewhat nullified with speed, training, and experience)

                  That said, I heard a very interesting talk by an old martial arts master (I forget which, one of the japanese schools) i

                  • I've not argued that women can't be trained (one of my closest female friends was a champion martial artist of several disciplines), rather that they usually need to be trained as opposed to having instincts for the craft.

                    However I agree with your assessment. There is no substitute for experience. I think society would be much improved by mandatory military service. It establishes a substrate of common discipline on which to build a self-ordering society. Civilizations that grow to state where most citize
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Servaas ( 1050156 )

              you're simply looking at the momentum from a social adaptation that was natural for women in a patriarchal society.

              Sometimes that bitch from down the street is just a bitch.

        • I would propose the theory that women have become more aggressive because they have to in order to protect themselves against not only an aggressive man, but other women. When no one will step in to help, the "weak" (physically less stronger, whether male, female, elderly, etc.) either have to fight or die. Very few people will step in to help someone. They tend to turn their back and say, "Not my problem."

          It has within the past decades become OK for girls to not only protect themselves, but become bullies.

          • It has within the past decades become OK for girls to not only protect themselves, but become bullies.

            Women have been bullying since the beginning of society [cite not needed to anyone with a clue] it's just that is hasn't usually been physical (or obviously so) until recently. Just ask any girl who ever went to public school, or worked in a primarily female job, was part of any organization comprised mostly of females, or... but yes you are right it has been getting more and more acceptable for females to

            • Until recently? You know nothing of history. Go here [] and search for "the wool maid is done for" and read a few paragraphs. That's but an example.
              • Of course I said "or obviously so"

                Thanks for the ad hominem. And ignoring the vast majority of my post to try and distract by fixing on something minor you can try to pick at. As I've said - you're very transparent.

                • It must have been obvious enough to be part of the common social discourse in Roman literature. Transparent enough for you? (Ad hominem indeed, Mr. Kettle.)
            • I never denied that women haven't been bullies or that women haven't been physically violent. Because of society, however, most "bullying" occurred on a more intellectual level vs. physical. Until recently, it wasn't acceptable in society for women to turn to physical violence. I've even seen cases where the parent was egging a daughter on like he would have his son: to stand up and fight. My theory, although I digressed a bit, was that when a group doesn't feel protected or that there is no longer a social

          • I've got to wonder about "scientists" who want to watch mice fighting. What scientific value does this have and how is it any different from cock-fighting or dog fights?

            Michael Vicks files appeal - "I was only trying to get into Nature your Honor! Those reviewers are tougher than my cellmate bubba."

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by grasshoppa ( 657393 )

        I fully support this. Especially if mud is involved.

      • Re:Women... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Aboroth ( 1841308 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:21PM (#32829168)
        No kidding. In general when a man gets pissed at you, he lets you know, and maybe hits you or yells at you, but in the end you work it out. On the other hand when a typical woman gets pissed at you, you had better watch out. She probably won't tell you, and instead will use psychological methods to tear you apart from the inside in an attempt to completely ruin you and leave you a quivering shell of a man. Women are vicious. Men are so much easier to deal with because they bring problems out in the open. Most girls I have dated have said proudly that they think like guys, and don't act the way most women do (as I explained earlier). But guess what? They still do it, just not as often.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Doesn't that simply show a superior intellect outwitting superior physical strength?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by chihowa ( 366380 )

            Doesn't that simply show a superior intellect outwitting superior physical strength?

            If the situation truly warranted absolute annihilation of the opponent, sure. But even my wife admits that women can be cruel over petty squabbles. Women seem to have a harder time working out problems (even if men only work them out after a little fighting) and seem to hold grudges for longer. A superior intellect would probably know a little something about picking your battles and the good of social harmony.

      • Re:Women... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:27PM (#32829220)

        In all seriousness, why is this modded as funny? Twenty percent of reported domestic abusers are female, despite the fact that a man is less likely to turn in his wife and that the police are less likely to take the case seriously due to cultural effects. Some studies have even shown that female on male spousal abuse is the more common form, though it is less physically damaging. Mothers abuse children more frequently than fathers, physical confrontations in schools are becoming increasingly perpetrated by females, and all of that says nothing to the more traditional forms of psychological and emotional aggressiveness practiced by many women.

        • Re:Women... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:06PM (#32829790)
          You're very right - the fact that it gets modded funny is tellingly symptomatic of the problem. Let's end the denial and take the blinders off for the sake of all. We could start by asking why the media (or the audience) considers it "funny" for a woman to kick a man in the genitals? Or just haul of and slap/punch him - with complete impunity. Even when it is clearly painful for the recipient it is somehow supposed to be funny. It's ok for women to lose control and hit - right? Because that is the message and very few people seem to see a problem with that.
        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          Twenty percent of reported domestic abusers are female

          You should have bolded "reported", because as you say, men aren't likely to call the cops when their wife beats the hell out of them; they're ashamed the cops will laugh and call them pussies. Women have no such problems calling the cops.

          The "men more more violent than women" is a myth. Hell, there's a bartender at Felber's that put her first husband in the hospital.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blair1q ( 305137 )

      Really? Prager? That dude's logic meter was broken the day he was born.

      He's pro-violence in the media because it makes money for his right-wing buddies, just like his pro-religion and pro-right-wing anything does.

      Being "against the glorification of immoral violence" is a straw-man, set up to demonize anyone who points out that his idea of "morality" is extremist.

      • Being "against the glorification of immoral violence" is a straw-man, set up to demonize anyone who points out that his idea of "morality" is extremist.

        I had just skimmed over the quote until you commented on it. I missed the immoral part, which is a shame, because that quote is about the most idiotic thing I have ever seen. I mean, really? You are against immoral violence? That is just brilliant.

        I will go one step further than this Pragler twit:

        "I, for one, am against immoral violence. However, I
    • So aggression is fine, as long as femals are doing it... OR females are never aggressive... which one of these false statements were you trying to imply haha? Besides the BS of equating violence and aggression, of course...

    • "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
      --William Congreve, (paraphrased).

      'Nuff said.
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      That's a bit sexist, lady. I have a loose tooth right now, and it wasn't a man that knocked it loose. It was a redneck feMALE that hit harder than any man ever hit me (and I was in the military once). In my experience (and I'm no kid), women are far more violent and agressive than men. I like to drink in a redneck bar in the ghetto, so you can understand that there's a bit of violence occasionally, but I've seen far more catfights than men fighting. Women can't seem to contain their anger at all, yet societ

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:43PM (#32828704)
    I think so, Brain, but if you ask me that one more time I'm going to kick your ass! NARF!
  • by imgod2u ( 812837 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:44PM (#32828724) Homepage

    I mean, surely if cockfighting or dogfighting is illegal...

    • by TwiztidK ( 1723954 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:47PM (#32828748)
      But this is Science!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It wouldn't surprise me if it was perfectly legal to stage dog fights or cock fights in the name of science provided you do enough paperwork in advance. It's just the type of people who stage dog fights or cock fights are not the type that to do the paperwork.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zero_out ( 1705074 )

      It really depends on what is meant by "fighting." The fight could be similar to high school wrestling matches, or it could be lethal. I'm not well versed in the fighting techniques or habits of mice. The article doesn't go into much detail, and the full text paper is hidden behind a sign in page.

      However, cock fights usually result in maiming, and sometimes death. Besides, those are conducted for amusement. Though some may disagree, most would agree it's one thing to harm or kill an animal for a reasona

      • Even the full paper isn't much help. They don't go into details on the fights themselves. An excerpt from the methods says:

        "[T]he female was removed from the home cage; an opaque divider was inserted into the cage and isolated the focal mouse on one side; an opponent was placed in the cage's opposite side; the mice were given 2 min to acclimate; the divider was removed and the mice were given 10 min to freely interact."

        They then go on to talk about "winning experiences" without detail. Presumably they judge

        • They then go on to talk about "winning experiences" without detail.

          Maybe they were just playing checkers. Jus' sayin' ...

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by chocapix ( 1595613 )

        I'm not well versed in the fighting techniques [...] of mice.

        Potentially the greatest famous last words ever.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        I have kept mice, they will kill each other. I have seen this both introducing new female mice to another and brother mice left in the same cage too long.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Itninja ( 937614 )
      Kind of like prostitution. If you pay someone to have sex with you it's considered illegal (in some places). But you pay someone to have sex with you in front of a video camera, then it's porn and protected as free speech.
    • I mean, surely if cockfighting or dogfighting is illegal...

      I don't think so. Its more that the laws involved in making cockfighting and dogfighting are illegal is because it names the animals in particular. And since those laws don't say anything about mice then the law can't touch it. In fact, according to a Google and Wikipedia [] cockfighting has only been illegal in every state since 2007. This might be considered inhumane to allow it to happen but considering what other 'uses' lab rats have, I don't think this was much of a legal stretch. In the end, is this mora

  • by not already in use ( 972294 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:47PM (#32828746)
    I could totally take a bunch of mice. Can't wait to get ripped from all the extra testosterone.
  • by GungaDan ( 195739 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:49PM (#32828784) Homepage

    I wonder what the difference in this "winner effect" is when the defend-my-own-home motivation is absent?

  • Rage Virus (Score:3, Funny)

    by IflyRC ( 956454 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:57PM (#32828888)
    Is this the precursor to the rage virus?
  • by moehoward ( 668736 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:00PM (#32828928)

    I know I'm not supposed to talk about it, but I once saw Mickey take on Mighty. Now, I put my money on Mighty. But, the bout was at Disney World. Mickey won in less than a minute. Then, all hopped up on testosterone, he basically took Jerry's head off in the next match.

    I have seen stuff man. I was there. I have memories. Bad, bad memories.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by camperdave ( 969942 )
      But, the bout was at Disney World. Mickey won in less than a minute. Then, all hopped up on testosterone, he basically took Jerry's head off in the next match.

      I'm not surprised. I heard he killed seven in one blow.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My money's on Danger.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Well, what do you expect? Mighty was stoned. []

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:05PM (#32828996)

    the romans did this with prisoners / gladiators so why do we need to do this now with Mouses?

    • by justinlee37 ( 993373 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:12PM (#32829078)

      Because the Romans weren't conducting a controlled scientific experiment? Because the Romans didn't write down their findings, nor were they attempting to answer a scientific question to begin with? Because what we know about gladiator fights is limited and uncertain?

      I can't think of an analogy for how stupid this is; that's how stupid it is.

      • Because none of the scientists could understand the sloppy roman hand writing? Its like a doctors note, who really knows what they meant to say? The invention of the type writer was still to come after this happened.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Because Christianity castrated Western Civilization to the point where people are now afraid that losing might hurt somebody's self esteem. Used to be we could stomach where losing meant disembowelment (stomach! that's a pun!). There are gains to this attitude, such as the end of slavery and the enfranchisement of women, but the pendulum has swung so far we teach our kids to be afraid of their own shadows and every little pin-prick is treated like somebody just lost a limb.
  • by smitty777 ( 1612557 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:07PM (#32829016) Journal

    The results of this seem a little confounded to me. They "paired favored mice with the weaker...". Didn't they just introduce a bias?

  • Don King??? (Score:3, Funny)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:19PM (#32829136) Homepage

    One challenge they faced was ensuring the right mice won the right fights. They got around this by borrowing a trick from seedy boxing promoters the world over, pairing the favored mouse with a weaker, less sexually experienced opponent who could not hope to spring an upset.

    So, these mice basically got a false sense of confidence that might have gotten themselves a boost, and managed to avoid better fighters in the process.

    But, if the fights hadn't been fixed, they would have lost handily to the, er, undermouse.

    Definitely sounds like real boxing to me. :-P Wake me up when one mouse wins by tap-out.

  • I mean, it was the mice that were in the fight club, not the researchers... and since they weren't members of the fight club, they should not bound by its rules, right?
  • Like this? []
    Or more like the Hamster Fighting Machine poster?
  • This seems unnecessarily cruel and unethical.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, that just sounds like sour dough to me. I don't see any way they could have performed this experiment any more ethically. I mean I don't want to seem rye, but understanding how mice brains work, which gives us a little knowledge of how our own brains work, is hugely valuable to humans and is worth a little cruelty (as little as necessary mind you).

      P.S. Have you tried it with falafel?

    • PITA = Pain In The Ass (or a type of flat bread)
      PETA = People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (or People Eating Tasty Animals)
      Yes, some people consider PETA to be a PITA.
  • Scientists should have simply walked to the nearest stadium.
  • [] Poor mousey never had a chance. :-(

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein