Say “cheese! An artist trained two rats to take selfies…and they wouldn’t stop

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It turns out that humans aren’t the only mammals addicted to selfies.

A French artist spent two months training rats to press the small shutter button of a camera facing directly towards them in a machine resembling a photo booth. He discovered that the rodents had pushed him several hundred times.

The experiment was inspired by famous psychologist Dr. Burrhus Frederic Skinner, who used positive reinforcement to teach rats to press a lever inside a “Skinner box” – and Augustin Lignier replicated the study, but with selfies.

“I was trying to understand how experiences from the 1950s could influence behavior in this day and age where we have social media and smartphones,” Lingnier told DailyMail.com.

Inspired by Skinner’s box, Lignier built a tower-like structure with a camera at the top and a mechanism that released a small dose of sugar each time the rat pressed the shutter.

“At some point, the rats stopped taking the sugar,” the artist said, while explaining that the animals realized they were getting the same dopamine just by pressing the button and taking playful photos.

A French artist spent two months training rats to press the small shutter button of a camera facing directly towards them in a machine resembling a photo booth.

A French artist spent two months training rats to press the small shutter button of a camera facing directly towards them in a machine resembling a photo booth.

This rat pushed it several hundred times – the better of the two rodents

The revised Skinner’s Box included a camera, flashlight, computer hard drive, and sugar dispensary attached to a wheel, as well as food and water.

Construction of the transparent box took approximately two months, which also included testing and adjustments to the structure.

Lignier said the rats also damaged the structure during training and he had to make several repairs.

Then he got to work teaching the rats to take selfies by pressing the little button – the training was done for a few hours a day.

The rats were then taken out of the box for about a week and then put back inside to start the process again.

The artist initially had a screen in front to show the animals their photos, but he removed it after they did not respond to the images.

“They didn’t react because they don’t pass the mirror tests,” Lignier says.

He observed that the rats pressed the button every half minute later in the experiment.

Augustin Lignier used a Skinner box, developed by a famous psychologist, to test animal behavior.  The revised Skinner's Box included a camera, flashlight, computer hard drive, and sugar dispensary attached to a wheel, as well as food and water.

Augustin Lignier used a Skinner box, developed by a famous psychologist, to test animal behavior. The revised Skinner’s Box included a camera, flashlight, computer hard drive, and sugar dispensary attached to a wheel, as well as food and water.

Lignier built a tower-like structure with a camera on top and a mechanism that released a small dose of sugar each time the rat pressed the shutter.

Lignier built a tower-like structure with a camera on top and a mechanism that released a small dose of sugar each time the rat pressed the shutter.

“At some point, the rats stopped taking the sugar,” the artist said, while explaining that the animals realized they were getting the same dopamine just by pressing the button.

However, Lignier also found that the multi-colored rat pressed the button more than the white one, even after they stopped taking the sugar.

Skinner, a renowned American psychologist and behaviorist, conducted several experiments with rats throughout his career, focusing particularly on operant conditioning.

His famous Skinner box, created in the 1930s, allowed him to study animals in controlled environments.

About 20 years after the structure was built, Skinner placed rats in a chamber equipped with a lever and a food dispenser.

The lever, when pressed by the rat, released a food pellet. Skinner observed how rats learned to associate lever pressing with obtaining food, which led to an increase in lever pressing behavior.

Things like slots have used some of the experience to get people to play and spend money – and the same goes for social media companies to get users to scroll, like and comment.

Selfie Rats deploys a three-stage experiment with a group of rodents.  Trained with a sugar delivery system connected to a camera, a group of rats produces images of themselves by interacting with the camera

Selfie Rats deploys a three-stage experiment with a group of rodents. Trained with a sugar delivery system connected to a camera, a group of rats produces images of themselves by interacting with the camera

Initially driven by the compulsion to eat sugar, they end up playfully taking photos.

Lignier said he was trying to understand how experiences from the 1950s might influence behavior in this day and age of social media and smartphones.

Lignier said he was trying to understand how experiences from the 1950s might influence behavior in this day and age of social media and smartphones.

Social media addiction has become prevalent in our society, with the National Center for Addiction recognizing it as a similar behavioral addiction.

Psychologists estimate that more than five to 10 percent of Americans suffer from a social media addiction that can be compared to any other substance abuse disorder.

“Studies have shown that the constant stream of retweets, likes and shares from these sites causes the reward area of ​​the brain to trigger the same type of chemical reaction seen with drugs like cocaine,” the Center said of drug addiction.

“In fact, neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine injected directly into the system.”

Lignier compared the findings to how humans are attached to their phones in the digital age.

The difference is that social media platforms use likes and comments to trigger the same reaction the rat did when given a dose of sugar, and this keeps people coming back for more.

Likewise, sugar has been linked to dopamine and several studies claim it is just as addictive as drugs like cocaine and heroin, according to the Wellness Retreat Recovery Center, making it the perfect substance to trigger dopamine. same reaction to the rat selfies.

The artist said that humans are shaped to press a button and his experiment showed that rats are the same.

The artist said that humans are shaped to press a button and his experiment showed that rats are the same.

The rats spent a few hours a day in the box, then came out for a week and put back inside and started the process again.

The rats spent a few hours a day in the box, then came out for a week and put back inside and started the process again.

Skinner’s Box showed that the triggered dopamine response is what keeps us coming back to our social media for more, it’s what compels us to share a photo of the dinner we made or the concert we attended. assisted.

“Social media is designed to hook our brains, and adolescents are especially susceptible to its addiction,” said Nancy DeAngelis, CRNP, director of behavioral health, Jefferson Health – Abington, in a Jefferson Health article.

“Excessive use of social media can actually reprogram a young child or adolescent’s brain to constantly seek immediate gratification, leading to obsessive, compulsive, and addictive behaviors.”

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