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 ")

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?' - Niven, Pournelle, Flynn, 1995.

Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!' -

Worms Eat Plastic Now
'Slowly and inexorably, the rate of dissolution increased...' - Davis/Pedlar, 1971.

Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.' - Peter Watts, 1999.

 

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

A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'

Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.

Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'

Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'

Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.

Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'

Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'

Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'

Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'

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.