Understanding how little voles care for each other might also benefit humans, too. Although other, albeit highly intelligent animals, have been observed consoling friends and family, this is the first time this has been studied in depth, in a controlled lab setting. The result is simple, but profound. Scientists now know more specifically how the brain drives a consoling response through the use of the chemical oxytocin—which is believed to be the same process in humans. “Detecting and responding to distress in others is often impaired in psychiatric disorders, such as autism and psychopathy,” says Young. “We now have a means of understanding what may be going wrong in those disorders and potentially how to use oxytocin to better treat them.” Perhaps this little rodent caretaker could also end up consoling humans in need as well.