June 7, 2013 | David

When I'm anxious I'll tidy my desk or house to calm myself down. For people with anxiety disorders, obsessive or compulsive behaviours can get out of control. How is this linked in the brain?

Researchers have used a new light-based technique to activate specific brain circuits on demand. This has allowed them, for the first time, to show what brain areas can trigger or halt obsessive behaviour in mice.

Controlling behaviour by shining a light on a brain? Sounds like sci-fi to me!

This research was published in the 7 June 2013 edition of the journal Science.

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cleaning lady

The light-based technique is not suitable for treating humans.

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Image: Flickr/Janine

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