You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Metro

Science in Mind

MIT team uses flashes of light to grasp OCD behaviors

With a flash of blue light, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have quelled an abnormal, repetitive behavior in mice, gaining powerful new insight into an errant brain circuit that may give rise to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, uses a cutting-edge neuroscience technique called optogenetics to probe a mouse version of a disorder that affects 1 percent of adults in the United States. Optogenetics is less than a decade old, but the futuristic technique has rapidly transformed the field of neuroscience by giving researchers precise control over the brains of laboratory animals. Scientists insert a light-sensitive gene into specific brain cells, which they can then switch on or off with a pulse of light that is delivered through a cable implanted in the mouse’s skull.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week