Like people, rats are ticklish. Now, by implanting electrodes in the brains of these laboratory workhorses, researchers have identified the brain region that seems to drive the trait — an insight that could illuminate the origins of ticklishness in people.
The work, published in the 11 November issue of Science, also reveals that rats’ susceptibility to tickling is affected by mood, rather like in people.
Based on a survey he conducted for his fascinating book Laughter, neuroscientist Robert Provine notes that adults and adolescents are seven times more likely to be tickled by members of the opposite sex. When asked whom they would most like to be tickled by, there was a fifteenfold disparity.