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.”
Astronomers have found another planet just outside our solar system, which could be in just the right spot of its star orbit to support life.
Is Facebook spying on you, using your phone’s microphone? While I believe they’re not (they don’t need to), it’s fair to doubt me. With that in mind, here’s what you can do to make sure they have no possible way of listening to your conversations.
Is Facebook listening to conversations through your phone's microphone? Here is my response to Reply All's recent podcast episode.
Did you know that I host a weekly podcast? Well, you’ve just learnt something new and you learn a lot of new geeky facts in my show - aptly named ‘Learn Something.’
Apple’s unfair firing of one engineer proves that their ridiculous cult of secrecy has no place in 2017.
Sony just unveiled a whole load of new Playstation games at its Paris Games Week event. It’s easy to lose the most exciting titles in all the noise, so here are the 10 biggest announcements.
From 5G connectivity and improved AI, to the real arrival of Virtual Reality and Smart Cities, here are 5 key trends to watch at CES 2018.
It’s clear that humans don’t want to give up the wristwatch yet, so does the Fossil Q Grant strike the perfect balance between tradition and technology?
As a social media manager, I’ve always been optimistic about every business having a social presence. But as the side of my new stapler box encouraged me to follow the company on Twitter, it became clear that corporate reliance on these networks has gone too far.
Following Nintendo’s massively successful run of 'Classic Edition’ retro console reboots, it got me thinking about what other consoles I’d love to see reborn…
One tone-deaf VR cartoon tour of the Puerto Rico devastation has proven that virtual reality and social networking do not mix. There’s only so much social media based over-complication that we humans can take.
There’s always a stereotype in films that the murderous psychopath always listens to classical music. However, in new research, people who scored highly on psychopath tests are more preferential to Blackstreet’s cult classic “No Diggity.”
Transport for London’s decision to revoke Uber’s license to operate came as a shock to many, but look deeper and you can see why they deserved it.
Google has announced the Pixel 2 -their flagship to beat the iPhone 8 and iPhone X - with attention to design, subtle nuances and hardware/software interplay you expect from an iPhone announcement. Has the search giant just outshined Apple?
Should you invest now in an iPhone 8/8 Plus or wait for the iPhone X? Find out in my review...
In a world of ugly fitness trackers, can the Misfit Phase back up its seriously good looks with the capability to track your daily life goals? Find out in my review...
Ten years on from the original, Apple announced three phones - iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Which one should you buy?
After ten years of iPhone, Apple is set to take the biggest leap forward in design, specs and price. Here are eight of the rumours that I’m pretty sure will be reality.
So you’ve made the decision to jump into the world of PC gaming… You’ve made the right call, but it’s dangerous to go alone – take this guide to spec your monster for play through perfection!
It looks like I ruffled some feathers with my previous post about why people should just let the headphone jack die - with many of you voicing your own opinions in the comments. This has been a great dialogue to see, and I've picked some to respond to.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.