Monday 13 June 2022 | 84

Electric shocks and forced swimming in France in 2022

Mis à jour le 07 November 2022

If you think forced swimming tests and electric shocks live in the past, you are going to need to reassess your position: despite the controversy of the subject, the Ministry of Research has just approved a project that is going to electrocute 600 rats repeatedly and force them to swim with no way out to study the way in which chronic stress can lead to depression. How can these practices be accepted in France in 2022?

Hr blog

You have probably already heard about ‘forced swimming’ tests, which involve putting a rodent in a container of water to observe how long they will struggle for and try to get out. The test generally lasts six minutes, an eternity during which the rodent cannot know if they are going to survive or end up drowning. First, they struggle, before abandoning the idea of getting out, then limiting themselves only to movements that are necessary to keep their head above the water.

During this time, they are filmed. Nowadays, the footage will be analysed by specialised software, developed by Bioseb in Vitrolles or Viewpoint in Lyon for example, to automatically decipher the behaviours observed, that are used to assess the ‘depression’ or the distress of these animals, most often to predict the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

A new project approved in France

Thanks to the European Commission, France has finally published recent abstracts of projects involving the use of animals since 2022. I am sure you have understood: a project recently approved by the Ministry of Research is going to use the forced swimming test to study ‘the development of depressive symptoms brought on by chronic stress’.

In short, this is to say that 600 rats, after they have had cannulas implanted in their brains, will be subjected for two days straight to a fifty-minute session of ‘inescapable and unpredictable’ electric shocks.

Then the research team will assess their depressive behaviour and the effect of a molecule of interest with behavioural tests, including a fifteen-minute forced swimming test.

Help us to put a stop to these tests

It is unacceptable that these tests carry on nowadays. Rats are intelligent, playful animals and are sensitive to the needs of their companions. Sentient animals, in short. Nothing justifies using them for our own interests.

Over the next few weeks, we will tell you more about forced swimming, its practice in France, the international campaigns against its use, and the alternatives worth considering to help people suffering with depression.

Join us in asking the Ministry of Research to forbid these tests.

      on cruelty

      Copy this posts on Twitter: Stop electric shocks and forced swimming for animals! Public authorities should not authorise such cruel experiments! @sup_recherche #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

      Copy this posts on Twitter: .@sup_recherche, France must commit, like laboratories abroad, to put an end to cruel forced swimming tests on mice and rats! #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

      on alternatives

      Copy this posts on Twitter: Making rats depressed with electric shocks will not give more effective treatments! #EndAnimalTesting, @sup_recherche ! #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

      Copy this posts on Twitter: Instead of torturing rats to produce yet more medications, train psychologists and psychiatrists with 21st century tools! @sup_recherche #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

      Copy this posts on Twitter: Stop electric shocks and forced swimming! More funding for in vitro methods! @sup_recherche #StopNageForcée #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale #StopForcedSwimming

      / ? \ Electric shocks and learned helplessness — Inflicting electric shocks with no way out on animals is a common method in research on depression. ‘Learned helplessness’ was conceptualised by Martin Seligman and James Bruce Overmier in 1967 after they subjected dogs to inescapable electric shocks, observing afterwards that the dogs did not even make an effort to avoid new electric shocks in a situation where it was possible for them to do so. Their experiment was reproduced many times afterwards, using different animals, leading to numerous interpretations, and has been the basis of a model of depression that is well-used today on rodents. Electric shocks used to provoke learned helplessness are also part of the examples of ‘strict’ procedures provided under French regulation.

      © Rose M. Spielman, PhD - Psychology: OpenStax, p. 519, Fig 14.22 / / CC BY 4.0

      This article is the first in a series of four on forced swimming:

      1. Electric shocks and forced swimming in France in 2022
      2. Forced swimming: the images
      3. Forced swimming: the companies that advance and the industry that resists (coming soon)
      4. Forced swimming: other approaches are possible (coming soon)

      Translated from the French by Joely Justice

      Nicolas Marty
      Hr blog

      In the subject

      The animal testing industry makes propaganda One Voice is campaigning for laboratory dogs in around fifteen towns in France!

      Comments 84

      I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

      Fr | Tuesday 30 August 2022

      Arrêtons de faire du mal aux animaux !

      Carole | Monday 08 August 2022

      Faut que cela s'arrête, tous les tests effectués sur les animaux doivent cesser.

      George | Monday 04 July 2022

      Il est curieux q'un pays qui se croit tellement civilisé comme la France
      puisse permettre les laboratoires traiter de cette manière ces adorables
      animaux. Je suis complètement persuadé que l'expérimentation animale
      est inutile et cruelle. Je ne sais pas encore a quoi sert la présence de tout
      ces politiciens. Rendez-vous utiles, messieurs les politiciens français et
      arrêtez de vous croire supérieurs a ces adorables animaux et interdisez
      ces expérimentations animales. And stop considering yourselves as a
      superior country, because you're not that at all.

      Elise | Wednesday 29 June 2022

      C'est bien triste qu' on cautionne encore ces pratiques moyenâgeuses, dans un pays qui se dit civilisé.