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Biotech Science

Scientists Build a Smarter Rat 302

destinyland writes "Scientists have engineered a more intelligent rat, with three times the memory length of today's smartest rats. Reseachers bred transgenic over-expression of the NR2B gene, which increased communication between the rat's memory synapses. Activating a crucial brain receptor for just a fraction of a second longer produces a dramatic effect on memory, as proven by the rat's longer memories of the path through a maze."
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Scientists Build a Smarter Rat

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  • by ikefox ( 1566973 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:55PM (#29965054)
    Well, the NR2B gene is encoding for a very common and well known receptor within both rat and human brains - the NMDA receptor. These receptors have been the target of the majority of recent studies into working memory and synaptic plasticity, or so-called "long-term potentiation". Basically, the NMDA receptor is the most likely cause of memory reinforcement. The idea is that when two neurons fire simultaneously, the connection between them is strengthened for a long period of time. That is, the post-synaptic neuron becomes more sensitive to input from the pre-synaptic neuron. This effect is input-specific, in that it is only effective between the two specific neurons involved, and no similar input from other pre-synaptic neurons is necessarily potentiated. Most LTP relies on the NMDA receptors to function, via the calcium ion channels within most synapses. This is why increasing the number of NMDA receptors would likely reflect a quantitative increase in memory. This isn't exactly breaking news - researchers have known about the NMDA receptors/NR2B gene for years, and I've seen studies from several years ago with the same approximate findings in animal models.
  • Re:Spooky (Score:4, Informative)

    by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @02:12PM (#29966068) Journal

    Most of the time, at least in the US, the term OTC is used to refer to non-prescription drugs that are stocked on the shelves.

    Over-the-counter drug [wikipedia.org]:

    The term over-the-counter may be somewhat counter-intuitive, since, in many countries, these drugs are often located on the shelves of stores like any other packaged product. In contrast, prescription drugs are almost always literally passed over a counter from the pharmacist to the customer. Some drugs may be legally classified as over-the-counter (i.e. no prescription is required), but may only be dispensed by a pharmacy employee after an assessment of the patient's needs and/or the provision of patient education.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.