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Laboratory rats have a new partner, but not friendly. Researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, have a robot rat named WR-3, whose mission is to induce stress and depression developed in laboratory animals, the creation of models of psychological conditions under which new drugs can be tested.

The animals are to test in medicine as a model for treatment of human diseases, including mental disorders such as depression. Rats and mice get their sense of smell to cut something induce such as depression, or are forced to swim for a long time, for example. Other methods are based based on genetic modification and environmental stress, but none is entirely satisfactory in restoring a version of the human nature of the treatment of depression. Hiroyuki Ishii and his team hope to do better with WR-3.

The researchers evaluated the ability WR-3 two groups of 12 rats, the rather crude assumption that a rat less reduce depressive measured moves. Rats in group A were constantly harassed by his robotic counterpart, while other rats were intermittently and automatically attacked by WR-3, always in motion. Ishii’s team found that the deep depression caused by bullying attacks of mature rats that had constantly in his youth.

The team say they test their new model of depression to more conventional systems such as forced swimming.