New Study Says That Mice Are Smarter Than We Thought. Here’s What They Learned.

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Everyone knows that mice are smart, just try trapping one that’s gotten into your home, it can be a true battle!

They can learn to complete simple tasks for rewards like food. But sometimes, they don’t follow the plan, and researchers used to think these were just mistakes… they were wrong.

A study published in Current Biology shows that mice might be testing their own ideas and exploring their surroundings even while doing lab tasks.

In the lab, researchers found that mice understand the rules of a task but sometimes choose to act differently.

This means that their decisions are more complex than just going after rewards.

They might just actually be experimenting and learning more about their environment.

During the study, mice were trained to spin a wheel in response to a sound.

Turning the wheel the correct way earned them a tiny cup of water. If they got it wrong, nothing happened.

Over thousands of trials with 13 mice, researchers noticed the following patterns:

  • Mice improved their accuracy over time, showing they were learning.
  • Individual mice had their own preferences for wheel direction.
  • Some mice made “mistakes” often by turning the wheel in the same direction repeatedly.

To understand these “mistakes,” researchers did trials where they stopped the rewards temporarily.

The mice then quickly changed things up and responded more accurately to the sound cues, showing they knew what to do for a reward but chose to explore other options instead.

This means that the mice are not just using simple trial-and-error.

The study seems to show that their continuous need to explore other ways might be because they don’t get verbal instructions like humans.

Understanding this behavior could help explain human learning and neurological diseases… wow!

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