Because there are some things you can't ethically test on humans, human medical research involves animal models. Such models are useful and important. There is a lot we wouldn't know—and a lot of people whose lives would be much worse—if it weren't for these animals.
That said, animals models are not perfect. Especially when it comes to relatively subjective problems like mental health. We test anti-depressants on mice. But how do you know whether it's working? After all, the mouse can't tell you that it's feeling better. And you can't really watch what the mouse does and see behaviors directly relatable to the human experience of depression, either. (Does the mouse feel more like going to his job and interacting with his friends today?)
At Scientific American Mind, Robin Henig explains the three commonly used tests that give scientists a glimpse into the mouse psyche. These are flawed proxies. Given the very real questions about how effective anti-depressant drugs actually are, it's worth putting some effort into developing better ways of monitoring their effectiveness in animals. But, for now, this is what we have to go on.
Forced swimming test. The rat or mouse is placed into a cylinder partially filled with water from which escape is difficult. The longer it swims, the more actively it is trying to escape; if it stops swimming, this cessation is interpreted as depressionlike behavior, a kind of animal fatalism.
Find out about the other two tests at Scientific American Mind
Image: Mouse, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from iboy's photostream
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
CEO Dick Costolo will resign, to be replaced in the interim by Jack Dorsey
The Lytro Illum dares to be different, boasting even more robust features than its first generation predecessor and a sleek design reminiscent of professional DSLRs. What’s so cool about it? Most cameras capture the position of light rays, producing a statoc 2D image.
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