Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekly Gratitude: Rats. Yes, really.

This week I'm expressing my gratitude for rats.

Yup.  Rats.

Not the rats that ate my car a five years ago.*  Not the rats that tried to live in my walls two years ago.   Nor do I refer to the kind of rats that carry the plague and grow to the size of small racoons.

(At this point I feel compelled to remark that my rat problems are not a result of living in squalor.  I don't.  I live in a major city in CA, which has no winters to that would kill some of them.  They like my yard because my neighbor has an apple tree that feeds them.)

No, I am not talking about vermin.  I'm talking about lab rats.

I'm talking about the rats who run mazes and endure water tests to teach us about mammalian (and thus human) cognition.  The ones whose bodies are used to test our psych drugs for animal safety.  The ones whose lives are sacrificed, and their brains sliced up and examined, so that researchers can see first-hand the physical and chemical changes wrought by meds or other stimuli.  

Because of these rats, neuropsychiatry is learning more and more about the physical differences that lead to brain dysfunction.  Because of these rats, I have medications that enable me to be a functional person.    Mad gratitude to the rats!

*OK, they only chewed the rubber insulation off the wiring, but saying that "they ate my car" is way funnier.

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