Rats Regret Their Bad Decisions, Researchers Find

Rats Regret Their Bad Decisions, Researchers Find

Lab Rat

Researchers have found that rats feel regret when their actions lead them to miss out on better food options.

This is the first time that regret has been identified in a mammal other than a human being; it was previously believed that regret is an emotion that only humans experience.

The researchers, who published their findings in Nature Neuroscience, elicited regret in the rats by creating scenarios in which the rats had to decide whether to wait for a food reward or move onto another. Those rats that moved on and found that the next reward was worse demonstrated regretful behavior by pausing and looking back at the reward they had passed over.

"It's like waiting in line at the restaurant," said the research team's Prof David Redish. "If the line is too long at the Chinese restaurant, then you give up and go to the Indian restaurant across the street."

The regretful rats also modified their future decisions and were more likely to wait for a "good" reward.

"In humans, a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex is active during regret. We found that in rats recognizing that they made a mistake, their orbitofrontal cortex represented the missed opportunity," Prof Redish said. He believes that his team's research can lead to a better understanding of how regret affects the decisions humans make.

Regrets? I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

Source: BBC Nature News

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No surprise here. Any pet owner that actually pays attention to their animals will know that emotions like regret are something they experience. Humanity really thinks that we are great because we are so smart, which we are, but it's folly to assume that we stand alone on this planet with the emotions we carry.

This is actually something I asked myself recently. Good to know that an answer exists ^^

It's funny to note that rats are also altruistic[1] towards one another, and I believe one study even showed that they will help one another even if that means the reward they receive is reduced - because they then share it. They don't have to share it, or help their fellow rat, but they consistently do.

Why does it surprise people to find that animals have 'human' emotions and capacities. ANy person who's owned a pet of any stripe knows this. I think the big thing we're learning is just how conceited humans are. I mean seriously regret is nothing more than realizing that you made an incorrect decision. Anything with the capacity to choose has the capacity to evaluate choices, if you can evaluate your choices then you have the ability to regret making the wrong choice. and the ability to remember so you make the right choice. Regret is also a factor of experience and learning. Did we think we were the only living things capable of learning?

that is interesting. For the most part I really don't give much though on how other animal think but them feel regret makes sense.

I guess you can say that they're...ratpentant.

But seriously folks, that's fascinating.

Or the rats could just, you know, be looking back at the other food because they...want more food. :P

Seriously though, I've seen way too many shows on Discovery Channel to not know that animals have emotions. Herd animals often mourn the loss of their fallen kin and comrades, with elephants and buffalo and such often lingering around the corpses of their kind that have been killed by predators.

Kerethos:
It's funny to note that rats are also altruistic[1] towards one another, and I believe one study even showed that they will help one another even if that means the reward they receive is reduced - because they then share it. They don't have to share it, or help their fellow rat, but they consistently do.

I keep pet rats. Watching how caring they can be with each other is always heart-melting. When one of my does became too ill to take care of herself, her sister fetched her food and groomed her.

On the other hand, having watched the video in the linked article, I find the article itself a little misleading. Rats (especially young rats) love poking, prodding, chewing and otherwise messing with things, and they especially love playing with other rats.

The "helper" rat in the video doesn't look (to me) like it's concerned for the other rat's welfare. It just looks like a rat that has been placed in a very boring cage and so keeps prodding the one "toy" it has available (the tube with the other rat inside) until it accidentally opens the door. Opening the door rewards the helper rat by giving it a playmate. Having been rewarded like this once, it's more likely to repeat the behaviour.

RJ 17:
Or the rats could just, you know, be looking back at the other food because they...want more food. :P

Seriously though, I've seen way too many shows on Discovery Channel to not know that animals have emotions. Herd animals often mourn the loss of their fallen kin and comrades, with elephants and buffalo and such often lingering around the corpses of their kind that have been killed by predators.

Elephants have actually been known to return, even years later, to where kin died, and stick around in the area for a little while.

I don't think watching somethings behavior on the outside is any kind of proof that it has thoughts.

Monkeys grin their teeth in a big smile, to show hostility. Likewise, if you smile back at a monkey, it will likely fly into a murderous rage.

We can put our emotional values on animals all we want, but for all we know they could be thinking of eating our face off while we think they look adorable.

This is a case where I have to say: don't believe its true or factual just because a 'scientist' said it. Educate yourself and form your own opinions. Don't just believe in science as some all powerful thing. That makes it into a religion.

michael87cn:
I don't think watching somethings behavior on the outside is any kind of proof that it has thoughts.

Monkeys grin their teeth in a big smile, to show hostility. Likewise, if you smile back at a monkey, it will likely fly into a murderous rage.

We can put our emotional values on animals all we want, but for all we know they could be thinking of eating our face off while we think they look adorable.

This is a case where I have to say: don't believe its true or factual just because a 'scientist' said it. Educate yourself and form your own opinions. Don't just believe in science as some all powerful thing. That makes it into a religion.

Being science all it can really tell you for certain is that something will continuously react in a predictable way.

What this seems to prove is that rats show behavior that look like regret, just as the study I linked to showed that rats appear willing to help one another, and following studies showed they'd still react the same in other circumstances. Neither one concludes the exact mechanics behind said action, but they both show rats engage in interesting behavior we'd normally equate to higher brain functions.

And if a "simple" rat predictably shows such behavior that in turn makes it worth to reexamine how our own species decides upon similar actions, given that the behavior appears more based on instinct than previously though.

If animals did not have regret, the ability to weigh values of risk VS reward, and any learning capability at all, we would not have domesticated anything. Wolves would still be as feral as ever. Cats would be...even MORE independent than they already are. Fish, uhhh...

...nevermind.

The first thing I thought when I saw Rat and Regret was a Rat saying "Oh fuck fuck fuck SHIT that thing had poison! I know it had poison, WHY DID I EAT THAT?!"

Signa:
No surprise here. Any pet owner that actually pays attention to their animals will know that emotions like regret are something they experience. Humanity really thinks that we are great because we are so smart, which we are, but it's folly to assume that we stand alone on this planet with the emotions we carry.

I second this, anyone with any sense or pays attention to their pets knows that their sentient creatures with emotions etc just like us humans, just because they don't speak English doesn't mean their not intelligent. My dog can attest to that, smart bugga he is.

Yeah it is not that surprising. The real issue is separating making a mistake and feeling bad with cognitive thought leading to feeling bad.

michael87cn:
I don't think watching somethings behavior on the outside is any kind of proof that it has thoughts.

Monkeys grin their teeth in a big smile, to show hostility. Likewise, if you smile back at a monkey, it will likely fly into a murderous rage.

We can put our emotional values on animals all we want, but for all we know they could be thinking of eating our face off while we think they look adorable.

This is a case where I have to say: don't believe its true or factual just because a 'scientist' said it. Educate yourself and form your own opinions. Don't just believe in science as some all powerful thing. That makes it into a religion.

well, if you want to learn something it pays to read the article. the article mentions that it is more than outside observation that was done, but also the activity in the rats brain that coincides with activity in human brain.during regret.

I've had pet rats. And friends have ahd other sort of pets... this is something you can see by just observing animals.
For example, my pet rat biting me, noticing it hurt, came back to me after I stopped screaming and starting licking the wound (no blood at that point anymore). And other pets do this.
Also good examples named above, for example the elephant death thing.

Signa:
No surprise here. Any pet owner that actually pays attention to their animals will know that emotions like regret are something they experience. Humanity really thinks that we are great because we are so smart, which we are, but it's folly to assume that we stand alone on this planet with the emotions we carry.

Actually, people with pets project their own emotions on their pets. Which is no surprise, given that they have an emotional connection with them. Which makes any statement people make about their pets inherentely unreliable. Sorry, but pets aren't intelligent just because you think yours is.

The rat's behaviour is dubbed 'regret', because it is analogous with human behaviour fueled by that emotion. That does not mean it's the exact same emotion that drives the rat's behaviour. We do not know if the rat actually 'feels' regretful.

Nimcha:

Signa:
No surprise here. Any pet owner that actually pays attention to their animals will know that emotions like regret are something they experience. Humanity really thinks that we are great because we are so smart, which we are, but it's folly to assume that we stand alone on this planet with the emotions we carry.

Actually, people with pets project their own emotions on their pets. Which is no surprise, given that they have an emotional connection with them. Which makes any statement people make about their pets inherentely unreliable. Sorry, but pets aren't intelligent just because you think yours is.

The rat's behaviour is dubbed 'regret', because it is analogous with human behaviour fueled by that emotion. That does not mean it's the exact same emotion that drives the rat's behaviour. We do not know if the rat actually 'feels' regretful.

Someone isn't paying attention to their pet...

Seriously, my dog would tell me when I got home from work if she had gone for a car ride. There was a different tone in the way she barked when she was super happy about something. Of course I didn't know she had been on a ride, but I asked my mom if she had anything special happen that day, and she said no. I then said that she was barking like she had been on a ride, and that's when my mom remembered that, in fact, the dog had been out for a car ride. She was telling me about it dude, and you're not convincing me that was me projecting a good mood on her.

I always see the regret in my rats eyes. Every now and then he wanders behind my speaker cabinet and I lure him out with a bag of chips (which he gets none of) before scooping him up and moving him to another room. Every time I see that look in his eye of "Noooo, I knew I shouldn't have come out! I could be chewing some wires instead right now"

Signa:

Nimcha:

Signa:
No surprise here. Any pet owner that actually pays attention to their animals will know that emotions like regret are something they experience. Humanity really thinks that we are great because we are so smart, which we are, but it's folly to assume that we stand alone on this planet with the emotions we carry.

Actually, people with pets project their own emotions on their pets. Which is no surprise, given that they have an emotional connection with them. Which makes any statement people make about their pets inherentely unreliable. Sorry, but pets aren't intelligent just because you think yours is.

The rat's behaviour is dubbed 'regret', because it is analogous with human behaviour fueled by that emotion. That does not mean it's the exact same emotion that drives the rat's behaviour. We do not know if the rat actually 'feels' regretful.

Someone isn't paying attention to their pet...

Seriously, my dog would tell me when I got home from work if she had gone for a car ride. There was a different tone in the way she barked when she was super happy about something. Of course I didn't know she had been on a ride, but I asked my mom if she had anything special happen that day, and she said no. I then said that she was barking like she had been on a ride, and that's when my mom remembered that, in fact, the dog had been out for a car ride. She was telling me about it dude, and you're not convincing me that was me projecting a good mood on her.

Managing to catch your dog being excited isn't really that much of a stretch is it? Dogs are fairly intelligent, but not much more than say, a cow. Or a horse. Or a cat. Dogs are domesticated wolves, so most of their behaviour is specifically tailored towards exploiting human emotions.

Of course, dog people are more than happy to be under the illusion that their dog actually knows what the hell they're saying.

Nimcha:

Signa:

Nimcha:

Actually, people with pets project their own emotions on their pets. Which is no surprise, given that they have an emotional connection with them. Which makes any statement people make about their pets inherentely unreliable. Sorry, but pets aren't intelligent just because you think yours is.

The rat's behaviour is dubbed 'regret', because it is analogous with human behaviour fueled by that emotion. That does not mean it's the exact same emotion that drives the rat's behaviour. We do not know if the rat actually 'feels' regretful.

Someone isn't paying attention to their pet...

Seriously, my dog would tell me when I got home from work if she had gone for a car ride. There was a different tone in the way she barked when she was super happy about something. Of course I didn't know she had been on a ride, but I asked my mom if she had anything special happen that day, and she said no. I then said that she was barking like she had been on a ride, and that's when my mom remembered that, in fact, the dog had been out for a car ride. She was telling me about it dude, and you're not convincing me that was me projecting a good mood on her.

Managing to catch your dog being excited isn't really that much of a stretch is it? Dogs are fairly intelligent, but not much more than say, a cow. Or a horse. Or a cat. Dogs are domesticated wolves, so most of their behaviour is specifically tailored towards exploiting human emotions.

Of course, dog people are more than happy to be under the illusion that their dog actually knows what the hell they're saying.

That's just it: she was ALWAYS excited when I came home. The difference this time was a tone in her bark. It was higher pitched than normal, and it only was ever that higher pitched if she had something to be extra happy about. It's one thing to be a skeptic, but you're just making excuses now to prove you're not wrong by saying that I'm being exploited. Oh please.

Signa:

Nimcha:

Signa:

Someone isn't paying attention to their pet...

Seriously, my dog would tell me when I got home from work if she had gone for a car ride. There was a different tone in the way she barked when she was super happy about something. Of course I didn't know she had been on a ride, but I asked my mom if she had anything special happen that day, and she said no. I then said that she was barking like she had been on a ride, and that's when my mom remembered that, in fact, the dog had been out for a car ride. She was telling me about it dude, and you're not convincing me that was me projecting a good mood on her.

Managing to catch your dog being excited isn't really that much of a stretch is it? Dogs are fairly intelligent, but not much more than say, a cow. Or a horse. Or a cat. Dogs are domesticated wolves, so most of their behaviour is specifically tailored towards exploiting human emotions.

Of course, dog people are more than happy to be under the illusion that their dog actually knows what the hell they're saying.

That's just it: she was ALWAYS excited when I came home. The difference this time was a tone in her bark. It was higher pitched than normal, and it only was ever that higher pitched if she had something to be extra happy about. It's one thing to be a skeptic, but you're just making excuses now to prove you're not wrong by saying that I'm being exploited. Oh please.

Again, picking up on the fact that your dog is more excited than normal says more about you than about your dog. You are able to pick up on the difference. Not weird, since you have an emotional connection with your dog.

Nothing about that suggests dogs are capable of experiencing full human emotions.

Nimcha:

Signa:

Nimcha:

Managing to catch your dog being excited isn't really that much of a stretch is it? Dogs are fairly intelligent, but not much more than say, a cow. Or a horse. Or a cat. Dogs are domesticated wolves, so most of their behaviour is specifically tailored towards exploiting human emotions.

Of course, dog people are more than happy to be under the illusion that their dog actually knows what the hell they're saying.

That's just it: she was ALWAYS excited when I came home. The difference this time was a tone in her bark. It was higher pitched than normal, and it only was ever that higher pitched if she had something to be extra happy about. It's one thing to be a skeptic, but you're just making excuses now to prove you're not wrong by saying that I'm being exploited. Oh please.

Again, picking up on the fact that your dog is more excited than normal says more about you than about your dog. You are able to pick up on the difference. Not weird, since you have an emotional connection with your dog.

Nothing about that suggests dogs are capable of experiencing full human emotions.

I never said that any animal has "full human emotions," just that they experience them as well. Animals are clearly unable to grasp the full weight of the situations they are in, so they won't get as upset about something bad, but most people will attribute no emotions to animals, or pass them off as acting entirely on brainless instinct. Usually, that's what I see as justification for killing them when they are being annoying or something dumb like that. I'm not some PETA loving hippy or anything, but those people clearly lack either observation skills or perspective.

 

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