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 ")

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

Researchers Create Bowls, Coils, Ripples Of Living Tissue
'... biological robots were not living creatures.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

 

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

Jaguar I-Pace Audible Vehicle Alert System For EVs
'Of course not a vehicle moved by means of internal explosions of a derivative of rock oil...'

Autonomous 'Fiberbots' Weave Large Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider.'

Birds Aren't Real - Wake Up, California! (With Bird Watching Guide)
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'

Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.'

IRL Glasses Block Screens, Limit Vision To Real Life
'If you couldn't see the ads, how would you know what was fashionable?'

Testing The Single-Person Spacecraft
'...the lower part of the suit was simply a rigid cylinder.'

Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'

Fully Automated Farm Iron Ox Hydroponics
'Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?'

BrainNet Social Network Of Brains
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it'

Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
'Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...'

IONITY Opens First 10 Fast-Charging Stations
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.

Deepfakes Imperil Democracy (George Orwell, Right Again)
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.

Still Wondering If You'd Work For A Robot Boss?
'This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.'

World's First Autonomous Tram In Germany
What's it like for autonomous trams when they're turned off at night?

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.