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Slacker rat, worker rat

Rodent work ethic, like people’s, comes in two types

10:27am, March 28, 2012

When it comes to intellectual challenges, rats, like people, fall naturally into categories of slackers and workers. And a shot of stimulant sometimes gets slackers to work harder while prompting the workers to ease off, researchers report online March 28 in Neuropsychopharmacology.

Hard work can come in many forms. Animal studies that explore the costs and benefits of such tasks usually involve rodents physically working, such as pushing a lever or scaling a wall for a reward. But those kinds of experiments don’t account for mental effort, says Jay Hosking of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

“We were trying to find something that modeled a little more closely what you see in the human experience,” Hosking says. “In everyday life, it’s the cognitive side where people really have to make those decisions, like whether you work harder throughout the day in hopes of getting a promotion, or coast through and check F

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