Procrastinating monkeys were turned into workaholics using a gene treatment to block a key brain compound, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.
Blocking cells from receiving dopamine made the monkeys work harder at a task -- and they were better at it, too, the U.S. government researchers found.
Dr. Barry Richmond and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health used a new genetic technique to block the D2 gene.
"The gene makes a receptor for a key brain messenger chemical, dopamine," Richmond said in a statement. Dopamine is a message carrying chemical associated with rewards, movement and a variety of other important functions.
"The gene knockdown triggered a remarkable transformation in the simian work ethic. Like many of us, monkeys normally slack off initially in working toward a distant goal," he added.
For their study, Richmond and colleague used seven rhesus monkeys. They had to push a lever in response to visual cues on a projection screen, and got a drop of water as a reward.
"They work more efficiently -- make fewer errors -- as they get closer to being rewarded. But without the dopamine receptor, they consistently stayed on-task and made few errors, because they could no longer learn to use visual cues to predict how their work was going to get them a reward," according to Reuters.com
Boffins at the National Institute of Mental Health near Washington DC have developed a treatment that supposedly completely changes their work ethics. Doctor Richmond from the team reckons "normal monkeys and people procrastinate," and that they "work better when the reward is nearer in time." Apparently, the treatment-monkeys don't procrastinate one bit.
The treatment involves cutting off the brain's supply of dopamine, although apparently after 10 weeks the effects of the treatment wear off. This treatment could mark a whole new era of monkey-based slave labour, increasing unemployment among humans and eventually leading to the destruction of the human race as we know it (it probably won't though).
The Doc seems to think similar treatments could help people with conditions like depression, or other conditions where motivation seems to have been plucked from people's lives. That is, if we survive the Monkey Revolution, informs Theinquirer.net