Friday, February 23, 2024

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Even Rats Are Taking Selfies Now (and Having fun with It)

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When Augustin Lignier, an expert photographer in Paris, was in graduate college, he started to ponder the purpose of picture-taking within the fashionable world: Why did so many people really feel compelled to {photograph} our lives and share these pictures on-line?

It was not a novel query, but it surely led Mr. Lignier to a shocking place, and earlier than lengthy he discovered himself constructing what was, in essence, a photograph sales space for rats.

He took inspiration from B.F. Skinner, the well-known behaviorist who had devised a take a look at chamber to check studying in rats. The Skinner field, because it grew to become identified, allotted meals pellets when rats pushed a chosen lever.

It grew to become probably the most well-known experimental paradigms in psychology. Scientists discovered that reward-seeking rats grew to become lever-pressing execs, pushing the bar down again and again in trade for meals, medication or perhaps a light electrical zap on to the pleasure middle of the mind.

Mr. Lignier constructed his personal model of a Skinner field — a tall, clear tower with an hooked up digicam — and launched two pet-store rats inside. Each time the rats pressed the button contained in the field, they obtained a small dose of sugar and the digicam snapped their picture. The ensuing pictures have been instantly displayed on a display screen, the place the rats may see them. (“However actually I don’t suppose they understood it,” Mr. Lignier mentioned.)

The rodents shortly grew to become enthusiastic button pushers. “They’re very intelligent,” Mr. Lignier mentioned. (He named the white rat, which proved to be the cleverer of the 2, Augustin, after himself. The brown and white rat he named Arthur, after his brother.)

However after this coaching part, the rewards grew to become extra unpredictable. Though the rats have been nonetheless photographed each time they hit the button, the candy treats got here solely every so often, by design. These sorts of intermittent rewards might be particularly highly effective, scientists have discovered, maintaining animals glued to their experimental slot machines as they await their subsequent jackpot.

Certainly, within the face of those unpredictable rewards, Augustin and Arthur — the rats — continued. Typically, they ignored the sugar even when it did arrive, Mr. Lignier mentioned, and simply saved urgent the button anyway.

To Mr. Lignier, the parallel is clear. “Digital and social media corporations use the identical idea to maintain the eye of the viewer so long as attainable,” he mentioned.

Certainly, social media has been described as “a Skinner Field for the trendy human,” doling out periodic, unpredictable rewards — a like, a observe, a promising romantic match — that maintain us glued to our telephones.

Or perhaps with the ability to maintain ourselves busy urgent buttons is its personal reward. In a 2014 examine, scientists concluded that many human volunteers “most well-liked to manage electrical shocks to themselves as an alternative of being left alone with their ideas.” Perhaps we might quite sit round and push no matter levers are in entrance of us — even people who may make us really feel dangerous — than sit with ourselves in quiet contemplation.

However that’s exactly the kind of factor that may be too uncomfortable to take a seat round and ponder. Particularly when there are rat selfies to marvel over — “I discovered them cute and enjoyable,” Mr. Lignier mentioned — and an infinite stream of Instagram photographs to scroll via and even, often, get pleasure from.



Produced by Antonio de Luca and Matt McCann

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Latest Posts

Even Rats Are Taking Selfies Now (and Having fun with It)

spot_img


When Augustin Lignier, an expert photographer in Paris, was in graduate college, he started to ponder the purpose of picture-taking within the fashionable world: Why did so many people really feel compelled to {photograph} our lives and share these pictures on-line?

It was not a novel query, but it surely led Mr. Lignier to a shocking place, and earlier than lengthy he discovered himself constructing what was, in essence, a photograph sales space for rats.

He took inspiration from B.F. Skinner, the well-known behaviorist who had devised a take a look at chamber to check studying in rats. The Skinner field, because it grew to become identified, allotted meals pellets when rats pushed a chosen lever.

It grew to become probably the most well-known experimental paradigms in psychology. Scientists discovered that reward-seeking rats grew to become lever-pressing execs, pushing the bar down again and again in trade for meals, medication or perhaps a light electrical zap on to the pleasure middle of the mind.

Mr. Lignier constructed his personal model of a Skinner field — a tall, clear tower with an hooked up digicam — and launched two pet-store rats inside. Each time the rats pressed the button contained in the field, they obtained a small dose of sugar and the digicam snapped their picture. The ensuing pictures have been instantly displayed on a display screen, the place the rats may see them. (“However actually I don’t suppose they understood it,” Mr. Lignier mentioned.)

The rodents shortly grew to become enthusiastic button pushers. “They’re very intelligent,” Mr. Lignier mentioned. (He named the white rat, which proved to be the cleverer of the 2, Augustin, after himself. The brown and white rat he named Arthur, after his brother.)

However after this coaching part, the rewards grew to become extra unpredictable. Though the rats have been nonetheless photographed each time they hit the button, the candy treats got here solely every so often, by design. These sorts of intermittent rewards might be particularly highly effective, scientists have discovered, maintaining animals glued to their experimental slot machines as they await their subsequent jackpot.

Certainly, within the face of those unpredictable rewards, Augustin and Arthur — the rats — continued. Typically, they ignored the sugar even when it did arrive, Mr. Lignier mentioned, and simply saved urgent the button anyway.

To Mr. Lignier, the parallel is clear. “Digital and social media corporations use the identical idea to maintain the eye of the viewer so long as attainable,” he mentioned.

Certainly, social media has been described as “a Skinner Field for the trendy human,” doling out periodic, unpredictable rewards — a like, a observe, a promising romantic match — that maintain us glued to our telephones.

Or perhaps with the ability to maintain ourselves busy urgent buttons is its personal reward. In a 2014 examine, scientists concluded that many human volunteers “most well-liked to manage electrical shocks to themselves as an alternative of being left alone with their ideas.” Perhaps we might quite sit round and push no matter levers are in entrance of us — even people who may make us really feel dangerous — than sit with ourselves in quiet contemplation.

However that’s exactly the kind of factor that may be too uncomfortable to take a seat round and ponder. Particularly when there are rat selfies to marvel over — “I discovered them cute and enjoyable,” Mr. Lignier mentioned — and an infinite stream of Instagram photographs to scroll via and even, often, get pleasure from.



Produced by Antonio de Luca and Matt McCann

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Don't Miss

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.