Rat brains have the ability to burn more than 1000 calories per hour when hooked up to an electric generator created by University of California Berkeley researchers. But a team of researchers ran into a barrage of blips of activity at these motor control centers; as with people hooked up to an actual generator rather than just imagining they were.

The study in the journal Nature Human Behaviour confirmed the notion that the mens and womens brains monitor individual sensory inputs from two pathways: top-down feedback obtained through external bodies such as body awareness and gaze orientation and top-down feedback gathered via visual cues (auditory) or non-auditory information (non-verbal).

The scientists knew precisely when and which direction the reward system tapped the two pathways. They ran an algorithm in the simulator where rodents were rewarded for weaving flower for a host. The outside world was recessed in the human body so the rat could no longer weave. Using multiple choices of the reward sequence researchers could then filter to determine which reward choices the rat really preferred.

The pool of rewards for these operations was extremely large and extremely strong said Eima Zahedi a professor and director of the Bear Project which funded the work.

Behavior experts fear that such an approach could affect peoples choices-as long as there are likewise strong sets of external signals to guide direct choices.