Mice Are Choosy, and Prefer Women

Mice Are Choosy, and Prefer Women

Rats and mice have been prime targets of research since humans began controlled experiments. Huge numbers of these rodents take over whole floors in genetics labs around the world, living out their lives in cages and involuntarily helping science pose theories and find cures.

But one startling fact about lab mice was unknown until very recently. Men, it turns out, stress mice out so much that the rodents overall state of health is effected.

The stress effect is so clear, and prevalent, that the outcomes of studies are dependent on who handles the mice. Women have little effect on mice’s attitudes or reactions, but men very clearly do. The study results were published recently in the highly prestigious scientific journal, Nature.

This finding was unexpected, and stumbled upon when researchers were doing a larger study to determine how the experimenter’s role affect pain reactions in mice.

Mice responded more poorly to pain (received with an injection to the ankle) with men present; in fact, their pain response was 40% greater. Even a T-shirt that had been worn by a man, and left in the same room, would provoke more pain. Women’s presence had either no effect, or improved the pain response in the mice studied.

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