Rodents Are Just Like Us! (Yes, That Mouse Is Grimacing at You)
In a new study, researchers at McGill University and the University of British Columbia have found that mice show pain through their facial expressions. For real!
When subjected to moderate pain stimuli -- levels comparable to a headache, or maybe a finger jammed while playing racquetball -- mice showed discomfort through facial expressions like orbital tightening (eye closing), nose and cheek bulges, and ear and whisker positions, according to the severity of the stimulus.
Just like humans! (Okay, not the whisker part. Unless you live in Williamsburg.)
Scientists are now working on a "Mouse Grimace Scale" to help doctors administer better treatments for humans and improve conditions for lab animals.
Continuing experiments in the lab will investigate whether the scale works equally well in other species, whether analgesic drugs given to mice after surgical procedures work well at their commonly prescribed doses, and whether mice can respond to the facial pain cues of other mice.
Dear mice: I am so, so sorry for the Glue Trap Incident of '08. Please forgive.