A YSU team is seeing how comfort affects laboratory rats.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Life as a laboratory rat cannot be pleasant.
An assistant professor and six undergraduate students at Youngstown State University are conducting research to see how giving comfort to rats used in scientific studies and experiments affects the research results.
The study is part of ongoing research on the behavior of rats by Jill Tall, a biological sciences assistant professor. Her research may lead to broader studies on how to more effectively treat pain in humans.
"Studying something as fundamental as pain gives you a sense that you are really doing something important," said Tall, a Poland resident who joined YSU's faculty in 2003 after earning a doctorate in biomedical science from Kent State University.
The research conducted by Tall and her students shows that lab rats given comfortable living conditions recover more quickly from pain than those housed in traditional cages.
Rats are social animals that like to burrow and chew, and giving them larger cages, plastic tunnels and nylon chew bones can make a difference in how they react to pain, Tall said.
Tall next plans to oversee research that focuses on how light affects rats' behavior and ultimately how the lighting rats are exposed to affects research done with the animals.
YSU senior Jessica Carney of Upper Arlington will conduct that research with Tall using a YSU Undergraduate Student Research Grant.