BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A group of scientists at Yale University developed a study on the hunting behavior of vertebrates by analyzing mice. Mice are generally not hunters, but they discovered they can ‘modify’ the small animals in order to get the information they need.
The focus was on the vertebrate brain and how it controls hunting behavior. Their hypothesis was that the main role in the process is played by the central nucleus of the amygdala. The object of analysis was mice and, since they prefer plants over meat, they turned them into hunters, break their behavior into several simpler ones and then control each micro behavior individually.
In order to condition the mice to hunt, they injected the nucleus of the amygdala with a virus that contained a gene for light sensitivity. Afterwards, the respective brain cells started displaying light sensitivity, too. Then they put an optic fiber into the animal’s head and connected it to a blue laser. Thus, they were able to trigger the hunting behavior in mice.
One circuit was meant to trigger prey pursuit, while the second one should control the face muscles so that they deliver a deadly bite. What the researchers did was breaking the hunting process into two, since they were able to choose either only one of the two actions or both of them.
This experiment left the entire science world amazed and impressed. Researchers not involved in the research commented on the excellently skillful methods they had used and the quality of the scientific concepts they had put to work.
Ivan de Araujo, one of the main researchers involved in the project, commented on the possibility of this theory to be extended to humans. Hunting instincts in humans have disappeared, since we are no longer required to obtain our food like this, but professor de Araujo speculated that a similar treatment might have the same effect on humans. He also thought that the central nucleus of the amygdala might be responsible for some of our more rapacious eating habits. Again, these are only speculations and require further research.
In an ending note, de Araujo stated that they did not trigger aggressive behavior in mice, but hunting behavior, which is natural in animals. No other mice were harmed during the experiment and they used small fake insects as prey.
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