Science & Technology
Scientists turn mice in to zombie killers
By T.K. Randall
January 13, 2017 · 12 comments
The mice could be commanded to attack small targets. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Rama
The mind-controlled rodents could be commanded to hunt down and kill a target using simple light flashes.
The experiment, which was designed to unravel the inner workings of the animals' predatory instinct, involved manipulating certain areas of the brain to make it possible for scientists to enable and disable their drive to hunt and kill prey on demand.
This was achieved by injecting a specific region of the brain with an infectious virus containing a light-sensitive gene which made it possible to control groups of neurons by firing laser light through optic-fiber tubing inserted in to the animals' heads.
The procedure made it possible to turn the mice in to lethal hunters at the flick of a switch.
"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," said psychiatry researcher Ivan de Araujo.
The behavior of the mice however was limited in that they could only hunt small targets.
"It had to be something that could be grabbed and contained, something they want to capture and subdue," said Araujo. "It's not that they got out of control and tried to kill everything."
With any luck that won't be set to change anytime soon.
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