As beautiful and placid as domesticated or lab mice may look, you would be surprised at what can become of them after being hit with Lasers.
Some research scientists from Yale University discovered that when optogenetics is used, that is, targeting and activating specific neurons in the brain, amygdala to be precise, mice could become fierce predators. As the research was being carried out, the mice became uncontrollably aggressive, they attacked and bit anything they saw, whether or not those things were alive. This was seen as they attacked live insects and bottle caps. It was observed that, the mice only became that aggressive when the laser was on, but when off, they went about normally.
We’d turn the Laser on and they’d jump on an object, hold it with their paws and intensively bite it as if they were trying to capture and kill it.
Another interesting aspect was that they did not attack themselves, this showed that what they had was a prey-hunting brain mechanism, and that there was clearly a degree of control going on. The scientists also noticed that the level of aggression with which the mice pursued its prey was relative to when it last ate.
The researchers, after seeing that a set of neurons were responsible for the pursuit while another for the attacks, they found that they could modify the way the rodent approached an attack.
We now have a grip on their anatomical identities, so we hope we can manipulate them even more precisely in the future.
They will look into what triggers the neuron to fire and how the two modules are coordinated. Who knows, these findings could help provide treatment for individuals with neurological diseases relating to the jaw and neck, since mice share similar brain-jaw pathways as humans.
Optogenetics is a biological technique which involves the use of light to control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. It is a neuromodulation method employed in neuroscience that uses a combination of techniques from optics and genetics to control and monitor the activities of individual neurons in living tissue—even within freely-moving animals—and to precisely measure these manipulation effects in real-time.