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article imageMouse mind control achieved

By Tim Sandle     May 16, 2015 in Science
Taking mind control to its fullest, scientists have used a cocktail of different chemicals to the control the minds and responses of laboratory mice.
A novel chemical combination has enabled scientists to switch neurons on and off in rodents. The switching effects continue for around 60 minutes. This is far, far longer than the milliseconds of activity elicited by any previous technologies. Researchers used taken this new technique to control the hunger levels in mice, by directly altering the brains of the rodents.
With the research, the technique systematically changes neurons so that they can carry “designer receptors exclusively activated by a designer drug,” or so-termed DREADDs. These chemicals come-on when triggered by key synthetic chemicals. DREADDs then release molecules when certain brain activity is needed.
While a single neuron carries only one receptor type (which means it can be turned on or off); the research has led to rodents having neurons that hold two receptors. These receptors have opposing effects. This means that the switching functionality can be manipulated in both directions. In the case of the research, this can lead to a mouse feeling either full-up or hungry.
Expanding on these concepts, lead scientist Bryan Roth of the UNC School of Medicine, has outlined the potential importance of the study in a research brief: "This new chemogenetic tool will show us how brain circuits can be more effectively targeted to treat human disease."
While this control of hunger may of societal good, Dr. Roth adds in his research note: "The problem facing medical science is that although most approved drugs target these brain receptors, it remains unclear how to selectively modulate specific kinds of receptors to effectively treat disease." To add to this, there are obvious ethical issues about 'mind control.'
The research was conducted at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC), supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research findings have been reported to the journal Neuron, in a paper called "A New DREADD Facilitates the Multiplexed Chemogenetic Interrogation of Behavior."
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