back to article Boffins turn timid mice into psycho killers – by firing lasers into brains

Scientists have turned wimpy mice into ferocious hunters by zapping their brains with a laser. Using optogenetics, a technique that makes specific neurons fire when stimulated with light, the scientists activated a set of neurons in the amygdala. The amygdala, a small region within the brain, is associated with memory, …

  1. Chris Tierney


    Once again Dr Evil proves he was way ahead of us.

  2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    If that's a mouse's brain...

    Their mice a descended from The Brain! (0:07 in the video)

  3. Little Mouse

    I do hope the boffins set up the machine with four settings:

    1: Surly

    2: Mean

    3: Vicious

    4: Brutal

    1. Steven Raith

      Cats will get a similar upgrade.

      They will be:

      I'm too young to die

      Hey, not too rough

      Hurt me plenty




      I'm still working on IDKFA, but we think it can be triggered by trying to tickle the cats tummy when it's dozing - that often breaks out all it's weapons at once, in my experience.


      Steven R

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        I'm still working on IDKFA, but we think it can be triggered by trying to tickle the cats tummy when it's dozing

        Often referred to in my household as "Venus Handtrap mode"..

      2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        I now have this unfortunate mental image of Mrs Slocombe's pussy and a laser

      3. deathOfRats

        I was thinking more on the line of the original Syndicate by Bullfrog.

        Though I can see how you came to your conclussion.

        By the way, have 1 upvote for the old times.

        Cat servant here, too.

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      5: PFY

      6: BOFH

    3. Vic

      I do hope the boffins set up the machine with four settings

      It's a mouse, not an Angel...


  4. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Trump Angle

    Could anybody turn off the lazer affecting Trumps brain, please ... thanks in advance!

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: Trump Angle

      Trumps brain, you say?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump Angle

      OK, no problem - I'll be on it in a minute,


      Sirhan Sirhan

  5. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Shocking cock-up. The mice were furious

    These creatures you call mice you see are not quite as they appear, they are merely the protrusions into our dimension of vast, hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings. The business with the cheese and squeaking is just a front.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    If I were paranoid I'd ask who funds such research.

    If I were really paranoid I'd ask who would like to fund such research, now it's shown such "positive" results.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: If I were paranoid I'd ask who funds such research.


    2. Pedigree-Pete

      Re: If I were paranoid I'd ask who funds such research.

      Possibly CrazyOldCatMans Cat, certainly has a mean streak. PP The Cat, not CrazyOldCatMan!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm all for the advancement of science and I guess sometimes experiments have to be done that frankly are a bit uncomfortable. However could someone explain the "why" on this one because firing lasers into mice brains to make them aggressive doesn't appear to stand out as a benefit to humans and looks more like a "Can we do it?" sort of experiment.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Is there really no application? The first thing that comes to mind is a new special military headset with a HUD that also shines lasers into eyes.

      Yes, I've seen Black Mirror.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        I thought military as well - fitted into helmets and one signal from base and it's instant berserker mode. Could be quite good for war elephants too.

        1. LionelB

          "Could be quite good for war elephants too."


      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Is there really no application?

        Let's see, can I think of any organization that might want to turn some relatively harmless misfit (perhaps with a low level job in a school book storeroom) into a murderer?

        After some thought and careful intelligent assessment - nobody comes to mind.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Is there really no application?

          Yeah, I'm still on remission from my MAJESTIC mind-control experiment run by the CIA. T'was a blast.

          I agree that mapping brain functions is very useful, but if you mix people in seats of power with psychopathologies into it (and there are many, probably most), things are getting dicey.

          Also, Joe Haldeman in "The Forever War":

          "Filters up." Gray haze of smoke and dust. Clods of dirt falling with a sound like heavy raindrops.

          "Listen up!

          "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled;

          Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,

          Welcome to your gory bed,

          Or to victory!' "

          I hardly heard him for trying to keep track of what was going on in my skull. I knew it was just post-hypnotic suggestion, even remembered the session in Missouri when they'd implanted it, but that didn't make it any less compelling. My mind reeled under the strong pseudo-memories: shaggy hulks that were Taurans (not at all what we now knew they looked like) boarding a colonists' vessel, eating babies while mothers watched in screaming terror (the colonists never took babies; they wouldn't stand the acceleration), then raping the women to death with huge veined purple members (ridiculous that they would feel desire for humans), holding the men down while they plucked flesh from their living bodies and gobbled it (as if they could assimilate the alien protein) . . . a hundred grisly details as sharply remembered as the events of a minute ago, ridiculously overdone and logically absurd. But while my conscious mind was rejecting the silliness, somewhere much deeper, down in that sleeping animal where we keep our real motives and morals, something was thirsting for alien blood, secure in the conviction that the noblest thing a man could do would be to die killing one of those horrible monsters ...

          I knew it was all purest soyashit, and I hated the men who had taken such obscene liberties with my mind, but I could even hear my teeth grinding, feel my cheeks frozen in a spastic grin, blood-lust . . . A teddy bear walked in front of me, looking dazed. I started to raise my laserfinger, but somebody beat me to it and the creature's head exploded in a cloud of gray splinters and blood.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Need to think a step ahead

      Firing lasers into mice brains may not have a practical use, but let's do a thought experiment here.

      This research is helping scientists understand how the brain works. More specifically how the brain's processes control things like violent impulses. More importantly, they're understanding how to turn those impulses on and off.

      What if this were to lead to a procedure, medication, treatment, etc. that could turn a violent, impulsive criminal into a productive member of society? What if this research leads to the ability to identify and treat such individuals before they go on violent killing sprees? Then is it worthwhile?

      Granted, that's an extreme case of shortening the path between basic research and practical application, but the basic research tends to be the first in many steps to concrete results.

      Always remember the most important words in science: "hmm, that's odd"

  9. Black Rat

    ooh crikey!

    It's real?, I thought it was Danger Mouse's origin story

  10. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Because the thing we need to be doing is creating a weapon that turns mammals into reavers. Yep. That's exactly what the world needs as the neo-fascists rise to power.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      I was thinking "reavers" as well...

      Miranda Mouse...

  11. Bob Wheeler

    Does this link to other news story

    the other week, there was a re-released story from the MOD on funding for a "British military laser death ray cannon".

    I suspect it is just going to be aimed at the mice, rather then for shooting down enemy jets....

    Just a cheery thought for the day.

  12. AceRimmer1980

    You're deluded

    Laser brain.

  13. dalethorn

    Animal abusers

    Trust one who knows - the kind of people who torture (i.e. "experiment on") animals are exactly the same people who fill those jobs at secret prisons and 'Black Sites'. From a good source, these miscreants cut the vocal cords first, so their victims can't scream out in pain. Yup, that's what they really do.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Animal abusers

      Most of the people I know that do drug trials on animals are pretty normal.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Animal abusers

        I have known people who have done drug trials on acid and magic mushrooms but how do you 'take' a mouse? What effect does mouse taking have on the brain, do you see pretty colours?

        1. Ralph B

          Re: Animal abusers

          > What effect does mouse taking have on the brain, do you see pretty colours?

          It'll be something like this, I imagine.

        2. IT Poser

          What effect does mouse taking have on the brain, do you see pretty colours?

          Sorry, I don't deal in mice. I do have a wide assortment of frogs if that is your bag.

        3. Vic

          Re: Animal abusers

          how do you 'take' a mouse?

          Something like this, I shouldn't wonder.


  14. Ralph B

    Mouse Gladiators

    > When other mice are added to the cage and the laser is switched on, the mice did not attack each other.

    I'm betting that at least some of the scientists were a little disappointed when they observed that. They went to the trouble of performing the experiment after all. And then nothing happened. Scuppering their hopes for a organizing the lab's mouse gladiator championship ... ? Maybe putting their DARPA grant application at risk ... ?

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Bucky 2

    Psycho killer

    Qu'est-ce que c'est?

    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better

    Run run run run run run run away

    1. MondoMan

      Re: Psycho killer

      My first thought upon reading the headline -- thanks!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Now can they do it by subliminal triggers in TV ads (e.g. Fruity Oaty Bars)?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are they doing this ? Not only pointless but sinister.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Now we have Alien / Mandchurian Candidate mice.

      What a time to be alive.

  19. Tikimon Silver badge

    Aircraft laser incidents revealed as terrorist experiments!

    It all becomes so clear now. Having gotten early wind of this research, unidentified terrorists are conducting field experiments. Their goal is obviously to turn the flight crew into rampaging berserkers and fly the aircraft into something. It's brilliant! Totally obviates the need to get weapons or holy brothers (cough) past security checks. The lasers are available everywhere cheap, unlike C4 bricks and Stinger missiles.

    Something must be done! Think of the children on airplanes!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because there is a world shortage of psychopathic killers

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the interview with the lead researcher...

    "I have a great fear of wooden sticks and bottle caps from my youth, and so with this latest work I can now employ a vast army of laser-controlled mice to rid the world of the scourge that is wooden sticks and bottle caps. Fucking wooden sticks and bottle caps, what good have THEY ever done I ask you?! What?! WHAT?! [unintelligible speech] goddamn wooden sticks and bottle caps and [unintelligible speech, trails off. he fell asleep muttering]"

  22. mosw

    Killer Rabbits are next

    Now we know where this guy escaped from:

    Run away!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Killer Rabbits are next

      Wake me when they turn tomatoes into killers.

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