Scientists from the University of British Columbia in Canada have built a 'rat casino,' finding that bright sounds and lights make the rodents more prone to taking risks when gambling. Yes, this is as fascinating and insane as it sounds.
As part of a study into addictive behaviours, Michael M. Barrus and Catharine A. Winstanley built this casino, teaching 32 rats to gamble for sugary treats. To do this, they chose between four different options with varying odds of providing either a treat or a time-out period.
The strategy that rats stuck to was always selecting the option which gave them smaller rewards, but carried less risk, meaning they did not go for "high-risk, high reward." They would do this under normal circumstances, but once lights and sound were added to the game, their behaviour changed.
Much like the slot machines you see people hooked to in Las Vegas, large rewards produced more light and music than the small wins. Rats followed these cues and took the greater risks. Simply put, the scientists had turned them into problem gamblers.
“It seemed, at the time, like a stupid thing to do, because it didn’t seem like adding lights and sound would have much of an impact. But when we ran the study, the effect was enormous,” said Catharine Winstanley, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. “Anyone who’s ever designed a casino game or played a gambling game will tell you that of course sound and light cues keep you more engaged, but now we can show it scientifically.”
After this, the team administered a dopamine inhibitor to block the D3 receptor - one which has been specifically linked to gambling addiction - and the rats immediately stopped exhibiting these irrational gambling behaviour.
"This brain receptor is also really important to drug addiction, so our findings help support the idea that risky behaviour across different vices might have a common biological cause," lead author Michael Barrus commented.
“I often feel that scientific models are decades behind the casinos,” added Winstanley. “I don’t think it’s an accident that casinos are filled with lights and noise.”
It's common fact that there isn't a gender gap in gaming, as an Entertainment Software Association report claims about half of the players are women. But what exactly are they playing? Well, Quantic Foundry conducted a study showing what genres have a female monopoly.
Nissan has announced they will be the first car manufacturer to put autonomous cars on public roads in Europe – being cleared by UK Government to begin trials in Britain.
It’s rare that a gadget makes you smile - like, really smile with a simple intention of bringing joy to one’s life. Parihug, an internet-connected teddy bear that let’s you hug a loved one from across the globe, is one of those rare times.
HTC announced some new upgrades for their Vive VR platform - including a new motion tracker, wireless adaptor and improved audio. But is this new hardware any good? I went to their private event at CES 2017 and found out...
Another year, another tonne of TV announcements at CES 2017 - but what were the best screens out there in Vegas? I found out and wrote a feature for BBC's Science Focus Magazine!
Everybody hates Blue Monday - the gloomiest day of the year according to research. Well, let's cheer things up with the chance to win a Monster Superstar Hotshot: one of the best bluetooth speakers I've ever tested. To enter, just subscribe to New Rising Media's mailing list.
We all love to take pictures of the starry skies at night. But to achieve the same incredible astronomy photography seen on desktop wallpapers and magazines, it takes some incredibly expensive and cumbersome equipment. That is until now, as the Tiny1 reproduces incredible space pictures with the form factor of a smartphone.
Ever wished you could just shut out the times when your friends decide to watch terrible shows on the TV? Well, with Holosonics Audio Spotlight speakers, now you can - built to project sounds like a beam of light to the person sitting right in front of it.
Way back in October, I wrote a somewhat controversial piece about why the Nintendo Switch is set up for failure - highlighting some key problems the company should avoid if they want to stand a chance against Sony and Microsoft. Did they listen? Let's take a look at what they announced in Tokyo.
When you think of in-store posters, chances are you imagine a simple poster hanging in the window. But Kino-mo are looking to innovate with their brand new Hypervsn technology - bringing 3D holograms to stores.
As the next Snapchat Spectacles location was revealed just outside the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, Snap Inc. quickly became one of the most influential companies at CES without actually being on the show floor.
Named ‘Project Alloy,’ Intel’s Virtual Reality hardware is set to up the game by mapping your room and adapting it as part of the video game you’re playing.
Meet Olly - a CES Innovation Award-Winning robot by Emotech which they claim has both “feelings,” and a “personality.” As someone who was equally amazed and terrified when watching Her, I’m going to give this device the benefit of the doubt.
Keeping the CES TV battles alive, Samsung has announced their brand new 75-inch 4K QLED TV - the “Q” meaning a ‘Quantum Dot Technology’ to produce near-true-to-life colour.
If one word was needed, to describe many gadgets at CES 2017, it would be “over-engineered” - companies that build a product, to solve a problem that never existed in the first place. Part of me believes that this AI-enabled toothbrush, known as Ara falls into that category.
Following the initial tease last year, LG have formally announced their Smart Instaview fridge at CES 2017 - but only one feature truly sticks out amongst a sea of pointless additions.
LG are looking to defend their position atop the TV mountain at CES - announcing the stunningly slim LG SIGNATURE OLED TV W-series.
During the first day of CES 2017 announcements, the word "millennial" was used 32 times. It's fair to say this is quickly becoming the buzzword of this year's show, but does anybody even know what it means?
Huawei just announced the next phone in their Honor line-up - the 6X - sporting an updated version dual-camera system they introduced five years ago, a decently low price and a fairly run-of-the-mill "me too" design attitude.
Chrysler has announced their latest concept car at CES 2017. Named the Portal, the team claim it is “a car designed by millennials for millennials.”
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.