Dan McDevitt

Memphis, Tennessee, USA

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The Laughter of Rats

Our thoughts and concern lately, as so often the case, is on the happiness of rats.  We surely wish them jolly well.  No need for despair, some recent studies do offer encouragement. 

Some funded research shows that an epigenetic mechanism in the brain may explain the addictiveness of cocaine and other engines of happiness.  You may be aware of this new branch of science.  It focuses on changes to gene expression even while the sequence of the gene remains unchanged.  Nothing for real is actually known about epigenetic changes.  The research might maybe possibly be able to suggest factors of environment like diet, substance abuse and other toxic exposure are triggers. 

The rats union is questioning why mice were chosen over rats for a recent study.  This may cause dangerous over exposure to political scandal fumes as a result.  In this mice study, viewed with suspicion in the rat community, it was found that cocaine alters the pleasure circuits in the brain.  It does so by repressing an enzyme called G9A.  This plays an important role in epigenetic control of gene expressions.  Any rat in their right mind could have told us that. 

Governments embarrass themselves with assumed social mandates and use tax funded bureaucrats to pay the research invoice.  Please do not take this the wrong way.  I want your tax money spent on this legislative spam and not mine.  Use my taxes to help children and the needy in our world.  I honestly do not give a ratís laugh about the other stuff.

An addiction psychiatrist at an established school of medicine helped put things in perspective in a recent press release.  The statement was that you have added risk if you have an environment with access and availability of drugs.  That explains that.  A congressional rat committee has it under further review.

In related research, they are studying the laughter of rats.  Little is known in this field.  Researchers have questions.  Clinicians are scurrying to find answers.  In live interviews, most of the rats have lawyered up.  Privately, they may be laughing at us.

Unofficially we know that when you tickle a rat in the stomach area, they will laugh. It is not audible laughter.  You have to watch their faces for that cute little rat grin reflex.  Their observation skills and sense of humor are linked.  The sight of test mice slipping on bananas always brings a giggle.  Humor is many times specific to the individual.  Responses to jokes seem to vary from rat to rat.  Political jokes, in particular, cause reactions ranging from a shoulder shrug of almost indifference to near uncontrollable convulsive knee slapping.  This seems to be a universal trait in many species.

The short life span of a rat compels them to live on the edge, to bundle as many good and bad experiences into the lifetime allowed them.  We can view their cravings as understandable.  As a group, they are disproportionately involved in drug use, for research. 

Receiving no financial compensation or health benefits for their intense drug use, they must view the research as its own reward.  That seems plausible in attempting to explain the laughter of rats.   

Dan McDevitt-Marketserve-Memphis, Tennessee USA

The Laughter of Rats

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