Tag: behavior

A Blast of Light to the Brain Can Make Mice Mean

By Andrew Moseman | February 10, 2011 9:56 am

The burgeoning field of optogenetics—using shot of light on neurons to control behavior—has already produced some intruiging and peculiar results. Now add one more: Scientists can use it to make mice angry and aggressive.

From DISCOVER blogger Ed Yong:

With a pulse of light, Dayu Lin from New York University can turn docile mice into violent fighters – it’s Dr Jekyll’s potion, delivered via fibre optic cable. The light activates a group of neurons in the mouse’s brain that are involved in aggressive behaviour. As a result, the mouse attacks other males, females, and even inanimate objects.

Lin focused on a primitive part of the brain called the hypothalamus that keeps our basic bodily functions ticking over. It lords over body temperature, hunger, thirst, sleep and more. In particular, Lin found that a small part of this area – the ventrolateral ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) – acts as a hub for both sex and violence.

Read plenty more about this study in the rest of Ed’s post at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Related Content:
80beats: Zapping Worm Brains With Lasers Reveals the Duty of Each Neuron
80beats: Star Trek-Style “Phaser” Paralyzes Worms With a UV Blast
80beats: Shiny New Neuroscience Technique (Optogenetics) Verifies a Familiar Method (fMRI)
80beats: Researchers Flip Brain Cells On and Off With Light Pulses

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain

Does Testosterone Cause Greedy Behavior? Or Do We Just Think It Does?

By Brett Israel | December 9, 2009 10:03 am

greedy-womanA spike in testosterone may not always turn you into a greedy, aggressive, power hungry monster. According to research led by Ernst Fehr, testosterone’s true effect may be to encourage status-seeking behavior, and it can actually make people play more fairly with others.

What’s more, its biological effects on a person may be overruled by that person’s beliefs. In a game-playing experiment set up by Fehr in which some people received a testosterone shot while others got a placebo, those who suspected they had received bona fide testosterone acted more selfishly than those who believed they got the bogus treatment, no matter what they actually received [New Scientist].

Fehr and colleagues used the ‘ultimatum bargaining’ game to test how testosterone would affect behaviour in a group of 121 women. Counter-intuitively, women who were given testosterone bargained more fairly. But the idea that testosterone causes aggression in humans, as it clearly does in rodents, is so firmly ingrained in the human psyche that women who believed they had been given testosterone — whether or not they had — bargained much less fairly [Nature News]. The researchers tested women because they have little variation in their normal testosterone levels. The authors, who published their work in the journal Nature, say their results essentially debunk the popular wisdom that says testosterone causes aggression. Rather, their findings reinforce another idea–hormones are complicated, and testosterone is no exception.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »