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Medicine Science

Triggering a Mouse's Happy Memories With Lasers Gives It the Will To Struggle On 66

the_newsbeagle writes: With optogenetics, scientists can tag neurons with light-responsive proteins, and then trigger those neurons to "turn on" with the pulse of a light. In the latest application, MIT researchers used light to turn on certain neurons in male mice's hippocampi that were associated with a happy memory (coming into contact with female mice!), and then tested whether that artificially activated memory changed the mice's reactions to a stressful situation (being hung by their tails). Mice who got jolted with the happy memory struggled to get free for longer than the control mice. This tail-suspension test was developed to screen potential antidepressant drugs: If a rodent struggles longer before giving up, it's considered less depressed.
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Triggering a Mouse's Happy Memories With Lasers Gives It the Will To Struggle On

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know this kind of thing needs to be done. Still I find it repulsive from an emotional point of view.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      When the time comes you should definitely opt out of any medical technique or drug that was tested on mice (hint: all of them). Don't want to be a hypocrite!
    • I know this kind of thing needs to be done. Still I find it repulsive from an emotional point of view.

      Does it? Does it really?

      I get research needing to test on animals but a test like this is not necessary. You can prove the same results using less harmful methods.

      • I know this kind of thing needs to be done. Still I find it repulsive from an emotional point of view.

        Does it? Does it really?

        I get research needing to test on animals but a test like this is not necessary. You can prove the same results using less harmful methods.

        I believe that the method used may be one of the less or even the least harmful - keep in mind that for *this* experiment... some harmful method *must* be used... i think!

        • by pla ( 258480 )
          keep in mind that for *this* experiment... some harmful method *must* be used... i think!

          Why? "Frustration" (or even plain ol' fatigue) has absofuckinglutely nothing to do with "depression" (on the short term).

          The entire premise of this experiment centers on the idea that giving up in a hopeless situation somehow magically forms a biochemical parallel to a long-term human disease state. Sorry, but no, they don't.

          I have no problem with animal testing. This, however, amounts to torturing animals jus
          • Re:Repulsive (Score:4, Informative)

            by sleepypsycho ( 1335401 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @08:54PM (#49949843)

            In fact there are relationships, and how these reflect to human models of both behavior and biologically have been studied
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm... [nih.gov]
            The long history of these techniques helps the other show the validity of their work because it is commonly known how reliable and variable the behavior.

            The experiment is interesting in itself, it show that stimulation of the cells associated with a memory as it forms will affect their behavior. Additionally the effect supports the hypothesis on how the stimulation would affect the behavior.

            Of course there are still ethical and moral consideration.. There may in fact be other better ways to investigate the same phenomina or it may be more ethical not to do the research at. However it is not fanciful sadism. It is a serious attempt to extend the understand of optigenetics, memory, behavior and depression

          • You have mixed up you objections with at least 2 legit issues: the method used to cause "frustration" to the mouse (which i thought to be "one of the less or even the least harmful" and one anonymous already replied confirming that) and if this experiment can reveal anything about "depression" (for which the fellow Slashdoter "sleepypsycho" answers very well) - i will give an answer about this 'torturing animals just because one particular subset of well-paid sadists can write it off as some debased form of
          • by allo ( 1728082 )

            Don't you think, the scientists know very well, what they need to test for depression/frustration, etc.? Neuroscience is their job, not yours. They will know their basics.

      • ...and the obligatory Onion [theonion.com]

      • I'm not sure the results are even that valid. How do you tell the difference between a less depressed mouse struggling and a mouse driven into a rage by having it's brain laser baked whilst being dangled by the tail? I guess we'll just have to stimulate a sad memory and see if those mice just hang there without the will to live.

        • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

          "Mice with happy memories struggled longer when the light was on, those with neutral memories showed no change, and those with negative memories struggled less." -tfa

          • Now that we have that cleared up, perhaps we can test it on soldiers that return from war before they commit suicide due to being asked to commit war crimes? This... This might make Trump happy enough to not build a prison wall around the country to make himself feel more where he belongs while he is 'fixing' everything like Hitler promised for Germany. I bet we could implant and recall memories in a five year old child of pulling wings off a fly and it would sell better than cartoon advertising in holid

      • I hear Bernadette's shrill voice muttering about the one on amphetamines that ripped off it's own tail to get free before disemboweling the others.
      • You can prove the same results using less harmful methods.

        [citation needed]

        Pigs or GTFO

        Put up or shut up.

        They all mean the same thing. You're making a completely unsubstantiated claim. You need to substantiate it for your claim to have credibility.

        • Logical thought and reason are all I need. I'm sure some psychologist has done a similar study I just can't be arsed to find it for a jackass like yourself.

    • I know this kind of thing needs to be done. Still I find it repulsive from an emotional point of view.

      I agree that this kind of things (i.e., experiments on animals) needs to be done, and, even as a hypocrite who has tortured animals just for "fun" as a kid, i understand how you feel - my hope is that we can use this emotional repulsiveness to better the lives of any animals we use as livestock (which are far more than animals we use for experiments and also tortured by our current livestock raising methods).

    • There's a special place in hell for pharma-industry researchers; apparently it resembles the inside of Richard Gere's ass. :p
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @06:47PM (#49949279) Journal

    Mice with friggin lasers on... their... heads...

    Oh, never mind.

    (I wanted sharks....)

  • These mice wanted to get some tail, so they struggled more to free their tail.

  • This tail-suspension test was developed to screen potential antidepressant drugs: If a rodent struggles longer before giving up, it's considered less depressed.

    Yes. This will definitely end in zombies.

  • by slew ( 2918 ) on Friday June 19, 2015 @07:35PM (#49949505)

    The tail suspension test (TST) was developed as a rodent screening test for potential (human) antidepressant drugs. It is based on the assumption that an animal will actively try to escape an aversive (stressful) stimulus. If escape is impossible, the animal will eventually stop trying ("give up"). In the TST a mouse is suspended by the tail so that its body dangles in the air, facing downward. The test lasts for six or more minutes and may be repeated multiple times. Mice initially struggle to face upward and climb to a solid surface. When the animal stops struggling and hangs immobile it is considered to have “given up”. Longer periods of immobility are characteristic of a depressive-like state. The validity of this test stems from the finding that treatment with an antidepressant drug will decrease the time the animal spends immobile.

    I imagine if the drug made the mouse more insane (i.e., struggling more against the impossible). Conversely, I imagine if the drug made the mouse smart enough to know it was impossible, it would appear depressed.

    Reminds me of a scene in the Bruce Lee film Enter The Dragon where he realizes he finds himself in a trap and just sits down and waits to make his move [youtube.com].

  • Lasers to help you struggle on at work. There should be a Dilbert about this.
  • Interviewer: Did it work?
    Researcher: Yes. But we had to discontinue it.
    Interviewer: Why?
    Researcher: Because what we thought was memory stimulation was actually a memory encoding and replay system.
    Interviewer: And that makes a difference...why?
    Researcher: Because our test subjects were highly disturbed by "memories" of getting their freak on with female mice...
    Interviewer: ...eww...
    Researcher: Indeed...

  • Weaponize it: soldiers who serve for home and memory.

  • God damn. We better hope mice never develop the ability to use tools or we're all going to have our throats cut in our sleep.

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      IKR? Looks like you can do any fucked up test you want on mice. We wouldn't allow this with cats or monkeys or the precious homo sapiens.

  • Somebody should try this on Melody Hensley [reddit.com].
  • "If a rodent struggles longer before giving up, it's considered less depressed."

    Pretty sure that was my last boss's management style as well.

    "Jim, how's your team doing?"
    "Great!"

  • I think so, Brain. But where are we going to get prosethetic tails at this time of the night?
  • No tea for me, thanks.

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