During lab tests conducted in mice, experts accidentally discovered that they can control the mouse brain and urge them to hunt successively. What’s more surprising, they’ve found that the hunting center was located in an unexpected part of the brain: the region responsible for fear.
Ivan de Araujo is a neurobiologist at Yale University, wasn't supposed to stumble on this discovery
. His original goal was to study the eating behavior of mice. However, his tests turned the subjects into maniacs.
As part of the study
, Araujo's team analyzed a 2005 research saying that the brain's amygdala is active during hunting and feeding activities of mice. They thought the conclusion was odd, since based from past findings, amygdala is responsible for submissive or defensive emotions.
Thus, the team used optogentics, a technique that stimulates neurons with laser light. The experts thought that applying it to the mice would mimic its specific hunting and eating behaviors.
And they were right -- partly.
After the experts have used the technique to mice, the rodents performed an entire hunting sequence. It shocked the experts, they didn't expect it. The mice turned into lethal hunters.
They hunted, preyed, chased, grabbed, and ate their victims. And they did it several times in a row, tirelessly chomping on every prey they find.
The team learned that two receptors are activated during the hunt. One receptor controls prey pursuit (PAG), and the other was responsible for bite accuracy (PCRt). When researchers stimulated the PAG with the laser, the mouse moves faster or slower. When they target the PCRt, it made the mice bite weaker or stronger.
Experts learned that stimulating both receptors turned the mice into hunting maniacs. However, these receptors didn't turn the subjects into serial killers.
Other parts of the brain kept the balance of the amygdala. Thus, the rodents only attacked smaller objects, and not other mice.
Imagine if this can be applied to humans? Would it turn the humans to voracious eaters? Increase their appetite? Make them obese? It doesn't seem very useful. But the study is impressive!