There have been plenty of horror movies made about mice or rats already, but a new scientific study is about to give moviemakers some new fodder. The study indicates that mice have a sort of kill switch that can be turned on with a laser, turning the disgusting (or cute, depending on who you ask) little rodents into terrifying killing machines.
When mice become terrifying
The study was published on Thursday in the Cell journal. Researchers said that a particular form of light produced by a type of laser activates a pair of neurons in a mouse’s amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for the experiences associated with emotions and fear in humans. Once those specific neurons in the amygdala are activated in the mice, they become aggressive.
In the experiments, scientists shined the light directly on the animals’ amygdalae and found that it caused them to tense the muscles in their neck and jaw. However, the mice didn’t do this when the laser was turned on other parts of their brains. The lead researcher, Ivan de Araujo, said that after they turned the blue laser on, the mice would jump onto an object, grasp it with their paws, and then “intensively bite it as if they were trying to capture and kill it.” The mice would attack live prey like crickets and also inanimate objects like toys or bottle caps.