This photo provided by Xiao-Yang Zhao of the Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, shows a mouse. (Courtesy Xiao-Yang Zhao/Southern Medical University via AP)
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U.S. scientists have ramped up predatory behavior in mice by stimulating a region of the brain known for its role in emotions like fear and pleasure, according to a study published Thursday. The experiment turned the lab mice into super-eating machines, vigorously attacking food, bottle caps and sticks as prey, said the findings in the journal Cell.However, scientists cautioned that their goal was not to create an army of killer mice.Researchers decided to see how mice's behavior would change if certain neurons were stimulated using a process called optogenetics, which is also being experimented with to restore muscle movement in people who have been paralyzed, and to treat those with epilepsy or Parkinson's disease.Using an implantable brain device and a laser to activate certain neurons in the part of the brain known as the amygdala, researchers found two different pathways to changing a lab mouse's behavior – one that triggered the animal's pursuit of prey, and another that signaled it to bite and kill.
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