Science study: oft-licked rat is contented rat

Wednesday, June 11, 2003 at 1:00am

Thousands of dollars in therapy bills can now be avoided because of research done by a team of scientists who found that the way a mother cares for her child can determine how anxious or fearful they turn out as adults.

The study found that infant rats that were licked by their mothers were less afraid and stressed out as adults than baby rats whose mothers groomed them less. Apparently the licking caused the little rat brain to rev up a gene that sooths the body in stressful moments.

The scientists stop short of saying human kissing and hugging would be the equivalent to rat grooming.

But it is breakthrough research, some scientists believe, because it shows that how mothers interact with their infants can have a long-term affect on behavior.

This research has enormous implications for any agency that deals with developing parenting skills. Should the link be made between rats and humans

Filed under: City Voices