Mice Get Smarter By Losing Cdk5 Enzyme

Just when you think you have a better mousetrap - they build a smarter mouse. Texas University research suggests that mice with the Cdk5 enzyme knocked out learn faster and detect changes in their environment more rapidly. The study results were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience this week.

"It's pretty rare that you make mice 'smarter,' so there are a lot of cognitive implications," the study's senior author, Dr. James Bibb, said in a news release.

"Everything is more meaningful to these mice," he said. "The increase in sensitivity to their surroundings seems to have made them smarter."

The key was removing the gene for Cdk5 only in the brain, and only after the mice had grown to adulthood. A technique called "conditional knock-out" was used, which results in a tissue-specific inactivation of a gene.

The reconfigured mice are better able to find their way through a water maze - and avoiding the electroshock parts. When crafty researchers altered the maze, the modified mice were the first to realize the change and learn the new structure.

This can be achieved by means of a recombinase, which is an enzyme that deletes the DNA fragment located between the two recombinase-specific sites. A mouse bearing the recombinase-specific sites is bred with a mouse expressing the recombinase. The tissue-specific expression of the recombinase allows the inactivation of the gene of interest only in the tissue where the recombinase is expressed

Like the rest of us, science fiction writers have diligently set up scenarios in which humans could become smarter. In Philip K. Dick's 1964 novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, people could actually get more brains if they wanted to be smarter. A procedure called E Therapy was performed to increase the size of their brains:

The man's head reminded Hnatt of a photograph he had once seen in a textbook; the photo had been labeled hydrocephalic. The same enlargement above the browline; it was clearly domelike and oddly fragile-looking and he saw at once why these well-to-do persons who had evolved were popularly called bubbleheads.
(Read more about bubbleheads)

Amazingly, researchers have been able to grow larger brains in mice; see the second part of Philip K. Dick's Bubblehead Brainiacs for details. Researchers have also tried creating mouse-human hybrids to make them smarter (mice, that is); see Mouse With Human Brain May Live for details.

Via CBC News; see also conditional knock out mouse.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/29/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.

Bring Back Extinct Animals! Sort of.
'The worldwide network of genetic arks had a surfeit of pachyderms...' - David Brin, 1990

Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!

Is There Extraterrestrial Life Here In The Solar System
'How fast is it moving? ...one meter per minute.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1982.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cute Teddy Bear Robot Favorite Of Hospitalized Children
'...thought had been given to its programming.'

Google Now Expects Chips To Design Themselves
'What lay down there? Energy, tubes and pipes, wiring, transformers, self-contained machinery...'

PRAM Solar Powered Satellite Hardware Tested In Orbit
'Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from... the Sun'

3D Printed Glass Uses Stereolithography Techniques
'All that with glass...'

Science Fiction Helps Young Readers Build Resiliency
'Reading science fiction and fantasy can help readers make sense of the world.'

I Want My 1928 Telestereo Hologram Now
'Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'

Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...'

Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Unwanted Cruise Ships Huddle Together Out At Sea
'On the screen they passed in an endless, boundaryless flood of green specks...'

Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

News Mood Filter Web Extension
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...'

MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE'

AutoX Sets Up Asia's Largest Robotaxi Center
'The robot cab seemed to know where it was going and, no doubt, the master machine from which it received its signals knew.'

E - Ink's Automatic Self Styling Color-Changing Dress
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Soft Robots Use Kirigami Piezoelectric Sensor Skin
'A worthy opponent was the golem.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.