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Rat empathy is environmental, not genetic

| | January 15, 2014

Rats, like humans, will show kindness to strangers, but only if the rats in distress are of a familiar type, a new study has found.

Neurobiologists from the University of Chicago have discovered that rats display empathy-like behavior toward other rats, but the basis of that empathy is environmental, rather than genetic.

As part of what Bartal calls the “Mowgli experiment” — a reference to the boy raised by wolves in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” — researchers plucked albino pups from their mothers on the day they were born and transferred them to a group of black-patched rats. As adults, the albinos refused to help other albinos but readily freed black-patched rats.

Read the full, original story: Rodent empathy is environmental and not genetic, study shows

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