Strange as it may sound, it's what a team of researchers at the University of Richmond accomplished as part of a study examining how performing complex tasks -- such as driving -- could affect treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

In the name of science, the researchers built a tiny car -- picture a clear plastic food container on wheels, with an aluminum floor and three copper bars for a steering wheel.

“We already knew that rodents could recognize objects, press bars and find their way around mazes, but we wondered if rats could learn the more complex task of operating a moving vehicle,” Kelly Lambert, co-author of the study and professor of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Richmond, said in a statement.


According to Lambert and her team, rat brains are good models for human brains since they have the same areas and neurochemicals, albeit on a smaller scale.

They trained six female and 11 male rats to drive the car in confined rectangular areas and published the results of their work in the journal Behavioral Brain Research.

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