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Biotech Science

Human Language Gene Changes How Mice Squeak 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-test-the-reverse dept.
archatheist writes "Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have engineered a mouse whose FOXP2 gene has been swapped out for a different (human) version. This is interesting because the gene is implicated in human language, and this has changed how mice squeak. 'In a region of the brain called the basal ganglia, known in people to be involved in language, the humanized mice grew nerve cells that had a more complex structure. Baby mice utter ultrasonic whistles when removed from their mothers. The humanized baby mice, when isolated, made whistles that had a slightly lower pitch, among other differences, Dr. Enard says. Dr. Enard argues that putting significant human genes into mice is the only feasible way of exploring the essential differences between people and chimps, our closest living relatives.' The academic paper was published in Cell."
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Human Language Gene Changes How Mice Squeak

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  • by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:14AM (#28147487)
    ... with ultrasonic zombie mice.
  • by DamienNightbane (768702) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:21AM (#28147525)
    This is how The Secret of Nimh began, isn't it?
  • by DamienNightbane (768702) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:29AM (#28147561)
    Wow, that's not what I was expecting when I clicked on a URL that had "fox" in it in a reply to a comment about the Secret of Nimh.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:29AM (#28147563)

    Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:34AM (#28147575)

    I think so Brain - but how are we going to get Natalie Portman and Jenna Haze into a room together with a bucket of grits?

  • by ethana2 (1389887) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:42AM (#28147601)
    I hear the rats of Nicad were pretty dense.

    /me ducks

  • by x2A (858210) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:45AM (#28147611)

    This is just the beginning. They started off with a cut down version of the gene (due to patent restrictions on the method used in working with the full gene) that only allows the mice to squeek in the lower tone, do the high pitch whistle, and make one other noise, such as checking its email. The three squeek limit will be a limitation until the Mice Generation 7, when they'll be able to have as many squeeks as they like, but the amount of memory they can use will be limited. This is of course until the EU gets their hands into them, and they will be born without an ability to browse.

  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:46AM (#28147621)

    Is that such a bad thing?

    One Celine Dion was enough, thank you.

  • by DamienNightbane (768702) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:46AM (#28147623)
    ...I like where this is going.
  • by x2A (858210) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:55AM (#28147647)

    The feeling of betrayal releases hormones into the blood that makes a steak taste just great

  • Well Said (Score:5, Funny)

    by tobiah (308208) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @02:57AM (#28147659)
    One could pick apart the errors of the parent statement, but the fact remains that if a simulation is too slow or wrong to make meaningful predictions, there's something wrong with the simulation.
  • by unfasten (1335957) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @03:13AM (#28147703)

    Emotions or not, I'm still eating cows.

    A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox's table,
    a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with
    large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.

    'Good evening', it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, 'I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?'

    It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters in to a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them.

    Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.

    'Something off the shoulder perhaps?' suggested the animal, 'Braised in a white wine sauce?'

    'Er, your shoulder?' said Arthur in a horrified whisper.

    'But naturally my shoulder, sir,' mooed the animal contentedly, 'nobody else's is mine to offer.'

    Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal's shoulder appreciatively.

    'Or the rump is very good,' murmured the animal. 'I've been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there's a lot of good meat there.'

    It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again.

    'Or a casselore of me perhaps?' it added.

    'You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?' whispered Trillian to Ford.

    'Me?' said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes, 'I don't mean anything.'

    'That's absolutely horrible,' exclaimed Arthur, 'the most revolting thing I've ever heard.'

    'What's the problem Earthman?' said Zaphod, now transfering his attention to the animal's enormous rump.

    'I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to,' said Arthur, 'It's heartless.'

    'Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten,' said Zaphod.

    'That's not the point,' Arthur protested. Then he thought about it
    for a moment. 'Alright,' he said, 'maybe it is the point. I don't
    care, I'm not going to think about it now. I'll just ... er ... I
    think I'll just have a green salad,' he muttered.

    'May I urge you to consider my liver?' asked the animal, 'it must be very rich and tender by now, I've been force-feeding myself for months.'

    'A green salad,' said Arthur emphatically.

    'A green salad?' said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur.

    'Are you going to tell me,' said Arthur, 'that I shouldn't have green salad?'

    'Well,' said the animal, 'I know many vegetables that are
    very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually
    decided to cut through the whoile tangled problem and breed
    an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of
    saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.'

    It managed a very slight bow.

    'Glass of water please,' said Arthur.

    'Look,' said Zaphod, 'we want to eat, we don't want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare stakes please, and hurry. We haven't eaten in five hundred and sevebty-six thousand million years.'

    The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. 'A very wise coice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,' it said, 'I'll just nip off and shoot myself.'

    He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. 'Don't worry, sir,' he said, 'I'll be very humane.'

    It waddled unhurriedly off to the kitchen.

  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday May 30, 2009 @03:24AM (#28147757)

    This is slashdot. Everything's related to Microsoft-bashing.

  • by Talisman (39902) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @03:41AM (#28147831) Homepage
    One of the more interesting aspects of basal ganglia is that it, along with the thalamus, make up the limbic system. Located below the cerebral cortex, this is the area of the brain where base emotions are generated, such as aggression and impulse.

    While researching speech in relation to the brain, it was discovered that while regular, everyday speech originated from the pars opercularis and pars triangularis of the inferior frontal gyrus, cursing originated from the basal ganglia.

    We know intuitively that cursing 'feels' different than regular speech when you do it, at an emotional level. They have proven that it actually is different, at the biological level.

    What's supercool about this experiment, is they increased the mouse's capacity to curse .

    What I wouldn't pay for a mouse that could curse. Or good god a monkey. Give me a cursing monkey and I'll tithe you every paycheck 'til I die.
  • by SlashWombat (1227578) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @04:09AM (#28147933)
    Why didn't you put in the bit about mice being the most intelligent creatures on earth, followed by the dolphins.
  • by x2A (858210) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @04:23AM (#28147975)

    Unrelated?! There's bits about TWO front page slashdot stories in there, as opposed to the other posts which relate just to the ONE? That makes my post *doubly* related.

    I'm sure that's how it works. Isn't it? :-p

  • Heard: (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @04:27AM (#28147989) Homepage Journal

    "Okay, who moved my fuckin' cheese! Hey Mr. Labcoat, why don't YOU run this goddam maze; you look like you could lose some weight."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 30, 2009 @05:57AM (#28148211)

    And what about the humans who don't contemplate the meaning of life? Most of us don't contemplate the meaning of life every minute of our lives.

    We do actually. Look, there's no easy way to tell you this but it's time you knew; you're one of the mice.

  • by Progman3K (515744) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @08:03AM (#28148611)

    And the mice will suddenly start to develop extreme communication skills and figure out how to upset the results of the scientists.

    "How better to disguise their real natures, and how better to guide your thinking. Suddenly running down a maze the wrong way, eating the wrong bit of cheese, unexpectedly dropping dead of myxomatosis, - if it's finely calculated the cumulative effect is enormous."

  • by BitterAndDrunk (799378) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @08:49PM (#28154315) Homepage Journal
    One of the most major problems of Microsoft is their utter lack of drivers for new technology. This was highlighted in Vista - remember "works with Vista?" Well, I bought into the hype and installed it in my newly built Death Star.

    But guess what?! DRIVER INCOMPATIBILITIES! It must have been a memory leak or something, because when I turned the thing on "low" and aimed it at Alabama (that'll teach you to deny my MBA application!), rather than disintegrating the state, it covered it in peanut butter.

    And not nice smooth peanut butter, either. Some extreme chunky variety that really didn't harm Alabama at all.

    So fuck you, Microsoft, and your shitty drivers.

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