Children love to get toys from parents for their birthday present. This craving toward items also involves object hoarding disorders and shopping addiction. However, the biological meaning of why the brain pursues objects or items has remained unknown. Part of the answer may lie with a neural circuit in the hypothalamus associated with “object craving,” says neuroscientist Daesoo Kim from the Department of Biological Sciences at KAIST.
His research team found that some neurons in the hypothalamus are activated during playing with toys in mice. Thanks to optogenetics, they proved that these neurons in the hypothalamus actually governs obsessive behavior toward non-food objects in mice.
“When we stimulate a neuron in the hypothalamus of mice, they anxiously chased target objects. We found evidence that the neural circuits in the medial preoptic area (MPA) modulate “object craving,” the appetite for possessing objects” said Professor Kim.
Researchers also proved that the MPA circuit facilitate hunting behavior in response to crickets, a natural prey to mice, showing the role of this circuit for catching prey. Further, the MPA nerves send excitatory signals to the periaqueductal gray (PAG), located around the cerebral aqueduct, to create such behavior. The team named this circuit the ‘MPA-PAG’ circuit.
The team showed that they could control mammalian behavior for the first time with this scheme of MPA-Induced Drive Assisted Steering (MIDAS), in which a mouse chase the target objects in the front of head during stimulation of the MPA-PAG circuit. MIDAS allows mice to overcome obstacles to move in a desired path using optogenetics.
(Professor Daesoo Kim)
Professor Kim, who teamed up with Professor Phill Seung Lee in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, explained the significance of the research, “This study provides evidence to treat brain disorders such as compulsive hoarding and kleptomania. It also contributes to the development of technology to control the behavior of animals and humans using strong innate motivation, and thus could impact neuro-economics, defense, and disaster relief.”
He said the team would like to complete the neural circuit map governing behaviors of possession and hunting in the near future by exploring correlations with other neural behaviors controlling possessing and hunting activities.
This research was funded by the Samsung Science and Technology Foundation and published in Nature Neuroscience in March 2018.
(Figure 1: Schematics showing possessive behavior induced by the MPA neural circuit)
(Figure 2: Schematics of the MIDAS system that controls mammals behavior using the desire to possess. A MIDAS mouse is following the bait object controlled wirelessly.)
In the Spring of last year, the legendary, fictional pilot “Maverick” flew his plane in the film “Top Gun: Maverick” that drew crowds to theatres around the world. This year, the appearance of a humanoid pilot, PIBOT, has stolen the spotlight at KAIST. < Photo 1. Humanoid pilot robot, PIBOT > A KAIST research team has developed a humanoid robot that can understand manuals written in natural language and fly a plane on its own. The team also announced their p2023-08-03
< Photo 1. On the 17th, KAIST held the 2023 Commencement Ceremony for a total of 2,870 students, including 691 doctors. > KAIST held its 2023 commencement ceremony at the Sports Complex of its main campus in Daejeon at 2 p.m. on February 27. It was the first commencement ceremony to invite all its graduates since the start of COVID-19 quarantine measures. KAIST awarded a total of 2,870 degrees including 691 PhD degrees, 1,464 master’s degrees, and 715 bachelor’s degrees2023-02-20
KAIST selected the two professors who will develop AI curriculum under the auspices of the KAIST-Google Partnership for AI Education and Research. The Graduate School of AI announced the two authors among the 20 applicants who will develop the curriculum next year. They will be provided 7,500 USD per subject. Professor Changho Suh from the School of Electrical Engineering and Professor Yong-Jin Yoon from the Department of Mechanical Engineering will use Google technology such as TensorFlo2019-12-04
(Professor YongKeun Park) Researchers have designed an ultrathin display that can project dynamic, multi-coloured, 3D holographic images, according to a study published in Nature Communications. The system’s critical component is a thin film of titanium filled with tiny holes that precisely correspond with each pixel in a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel. This film acts as a ‘photon sieve’ – each pinhole diffracts light emerging from them widely, resulting in a2019-04-18
(Figure 1. Electrode structure for the precise evaluation of the metal nanoparticles’ electrochemical catalytic characteristics at a high temperature.) A KAIST team presented an ideal electrode design to enhance the performance of high-temperature fuel cells. The new analytical platform with advanced nanoscale patterning method quantitatively revealed the electrochemical value of metal nanoparticles dispersed on the oxide electrode, thus leading to electrode design directions that c2019-03-28