What Is Stress? Part Two

Taken from “What Do Lions Know About Stress? (1996)

“How do researchers investigate the effects of stress on behavior?” Choua’s voice brought me back.
“Effects of stress on behavior,” I repeated after him absent-mindedly.
“Tell me about those ingenious experiments in which guinea pigs are given electric shocks to see how they recover from electrocution.”
“What’s there to tell? You know about them, don’t you?”
“Some of them were dunked in ice-cold water so that the researchers could see who could swim and live and who died.”
“That’s absurd,” I replied curtly. “That wasn’t the purpose of those experiments at all.”
“Then what was the purpose of those experiments?” he pressed.
“To study the behavior of animals when they are subjected to stress.”
“What do you expect to observe when you incarcerate animals in small cages, starve them, then make them fight among themselves for tiny morsels of food?”
“To study changes in their…”
“Behavior?” he interrupted me.
“Yes, yes,” I replied testily. “If you want to carefully study the effects of stress on behavior of stress, there is no other way except to create stressful conditions for the animal, then use electromagnetic sensors to measure their heart rates, breathing rhythms, tension in muscles and other laboratory parameters.”
“So you learn that their heart rates increase, their breathing becomes labored, their muscles go into spasms and their pupils dilate.”
“Yes!” I said, exasperated.
“The animals also become incontinent and urinate and defecate,” he continued evenly.
“Yes! yes!” I nearly shouted.

Choua stiffened at my outburst, looked puzzled for a moment, then smiled and looked away. Then, suddenly I recalled an image of the slaughter of a lamb on Bhurri Eid—the Muslim festival after the month of Ramadan, when the faithful sacrifice lambs and goats as a religious obligation. I saw such slaughters every year.

Read more at: http://childrenshealthcorps.org/what_is_stress_two.htm


After the animal’s throat was slit

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