Research Bit - Rat Race

Sharing with you today some of the research I did in the past year.

In coordination with Dr. Fay Guarraci's psychology research methods course, I helped run both a correlational experiment, "The Flirty Flirts: The Relationship between Proceptive Behaviors and Time Spent with a Male Rat," and a drug manipulation experiment, "Specific Effects of Morphine on Sexual Behavior in Female Rats."

Dr. Guarraci's behavioral neuroscience lab uses female Long-Evans rats (Rattus norvegicus) as a model organism for measuring the effects of drugs of abuse on female sexual behavior. Past experiments in her lab have researched alcohol, methamphetamine, and caffeine, amongst other things.

Our task as undergrads was to develop and carry out an experiment in behavioral neuroscience using her rats. We decided on morphine sulfate, a commonly used drug of abuse in humans. We found that female rats injected with an small, acute (one time) dose of morphine significantly reduced their display of proceptive behaviors. Proceptive behaviors are sexual solicitations female rats use to excite male rats into "the mood," such as hopping, ear wiggling, and occasionally female mounting.

Additionally, our correlation experiment found that female rat time spent with a male rat is significantly positively correlated with the female rat's display of proceptive behaviors.

No previously published literature had explicitly verified either of these findings, which was hugely gratifying.

Overall, the experimental skill set gleaned from Dr. Guarraci's rat lab encouraged me to pursue an exiting and important career in animal research.

If you would like a copy of either paper, email me at halla(at)


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