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Deleting Certain Gene Makes Mice Smarter 259

An anonymous reader writes "Deleting a certain gene in mice can make them smarter by unlocking a mysterious region of the brain considered to be relatively inflexible, scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have found. Mice with a disabled RGS14 gene are able to remember objects they'd explored and learn to navigate mazes better than regular mice, suggesting that RGS14's presence limits some forms of learning and memory."
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Deleting Certain Gene Makes Mice Smarter

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  • Whats the odds (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rainmouse ( 1784278 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @05:22AM (#33625808)
    Whats the odds that there are people quietly trying things like this on humans somewhere?
  • Re:Yeah! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @05:36AM (#33625882) Homepage

    Yeah, let's make lab mice smarter! What could possibly go wrong?

    Not much []

  • by Decker-Mage ( 782424 ) <> on Sunday September 19, 2010 @05:56AM (#33625960)
    Actually, the immediate thought that occurred to me is that the gene is what disables photographic memory. The people that have it probably have a mangled version that doesn't do its job (isn't fully expressed). Since we have yet to find a common marker for the ability per se, we should try to find the people with the ability and check and compare theirs against the 'normal' version.

    I personally don't have photographic memory although I am quite able to remember where I've heard or read something even after decades. Used to drive my fellow graduate students nuts (although my professors liked it since they had to never give chapter or page citations ;-).
  • by mehrotra.akash ( 1539473 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @06:40AM (#33626108)
    Surprising that noone noticed the reply titles "Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra"
  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @06:55AM (#33626150) Homepage
    Keep in mind that it relates to the people that take the test. If you opt to take an IQ test (not everyone that takes the test opted to, obviously, but many do), there's a higher chance that you've been exposed to the kind of environment/education that incentives critical thinking, and as teaching methods improve and learning resources increase, these people will continue to do better on these tests. We're not talking about the average intelligence of the human species.
  • by Boghog ( 910236 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @07:31AM (#33626256)
    Inhibiting the RGS14 gene product could be counter productive and in fact dangerous. While this strategy may enhance visual memory, it also may decrease hippocampal-based learning and memory: RGS14 []
  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @07:33AM (#33626262)

    Humans haven't really tamed anything. There's all kinds of natural disasters that can and will occur whether humans want them to or not. All humans have managed to do is delude themselves into believing that they are superior to every other species on the planet so that they can slaughter innocent animals in order to satisfy their taste buds, even when there are other sources of food to eat that don't suffer just as we do. Humans also carelessly mistreat the environment with things such as pollution and mass deforestation. For such an 'intelligent' species, humans sure seem shortsighted.

  • by Sqreater ( 895148 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @07:38AM (#33626276)

    More evidence that high intelligence is pathological in a species and that nature actually works to suppress the development of intelligence beyond a certain rudimentary level. Look how long dinosaurs ruled the Earth without intelligence. Understand how long they had to develop it and did not. Humans somehow got off the reservation a couple of hundred thousand years ago. Not only did we develop vast intelligence, but we developed abilities that ANTICIPATED the need for them. Why did we develop the ability to drive 60, 70,-100 miles per hour or more while weaving in and out of traffic? Unless you are a cheetah, there is no need for that ability. Yet we as cavemen do that easily every day (at least the nut jobs among us do.) The abilities that humans evolved, evolved long before there was any need for them and they far exceeded the need for mere survival. Evolving the ability to evolve and evolving the ability to anticipate need and change for it ahead of time is not conforming to Darwin's theory of evolution as I know it. Something is not understood. This gene merely illustrates that once again.

  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @08:34AM (#33626502) Homepage

    Also, most people DON'T seek to take the test. Their parents or school do. Most IQ tests are taken when people are young as a way of checking for disability or for advanced placement in the education system. Very Rarely does someone go to a Psychologist and say "I want to take an IQ test."

    I was waiting for someone to make that point, I knew I missed it the moment I clicked 'Submit'.
    Ok, but the fact that any person would choose to either take or administer the test is going to change the result. The school wants to improve its methods, the parents want to "improve" (guide, whatever) their children. Even if they don't change the result for the current batch of people being tested, it's going to change the result for the batch after that. One of the reasons that the test is there is so that we can draw conclusions (even if some choose to use it to brag), and part of these conclusions are going to be how to improve ourselves and/or our methods. Yes, I realize that the common mechanical reason for the test is selection/sorting, but it's also used "for good"...

  • Re:The Rain Mouse? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sparky McGruff ( 747313 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @08:55AM (#33626596)
    There are plenty of brain issues that aren't well modeled in mice, such as anything involving the prefrontal cortex (the front of the brain, where most of the higher-order thoughts reside). Mice just don't really have a true prefrontal cortex, which is where we do much of our higher-order thinking. The cousin of this gene, RGS4, showed up as a candidate gene for schizophrenia; mice lacking the gene are largely unaffected. The same case is true for most mouse models of psychiatric disorders, for that matter.

    Also, there's not that much literature on RGS14 at this point (it doesn't seem to have come up in any of the GWAS -- wide scale genome association studies) for psychiatric disorders, but it has been identified in molecular studies as a target of P53 (a central cancer regulatory mechanism). It would not be out of the question for this knockout to have a significant increase in cancer risk (brain or elsewhere), but not have this detected in a small-scale study.

  • by kainosnous ( 1753770 ) <> on Sunday September 19, 2010 @09:17AM (#33626694)

    This will probably be modded into oblivion, but I am compelled to say this as simply and as honestly as I can. I can take a hit to my karma, and I understand that it may be off topic.

    I was once an overthinker, still am sometimes. My mind was always moving contemplating everything, and I like it that way. Sometimes I wondered if my thoughts were out of control, but then pride set it and I would think that I was the smart one and that people who didn't think like me were too dumb to know better. I wanted to learn everything, so I studied science, but I was stuck with the realisation that what I had once thought of as "proof" didn't seem to hold up to scrutiny. So, I studied philosophy and even looked into metaphysics. I eventually read Descartes, and realised that the only undeniable statement is "I think, therefore I am". Everything else was based on assumption. I didn't want to admit it at the time, but that proved that all knowledge comes from faith in something. I then looked for a priori knowledge to see if there were something that we "just knew" to be true that I could start with, but began to get frustrated with all of the ridiculous suggestions.

    The whole time, I was troubled. Although I saw the world as a beautiful place with more depth than the average person could comprehend, I was saddened that nobody else could see it the way that I did. Even though I believed I knew the reasons for everything, my life was still falling apart. I had swings of wild ecstasy followed by depression. I felt that the short depressions were worth the highs and that I had attained the best life could give me. I was wrong.

    I would like to say that I found God, but the truth is that He found me. I thought that I knew Him because I had read the Bible and had been to church, but despite my own wisdom, I knew very little about Him. In the end, knowledge let me down as I realised that the world I had built was a fantasy world. When every body and everything, even my mind failed me, God lifted me up and showed me His way. Only then, could I really understand the Bible. Now, it is hard for me to understand how I ever ignored the truth in front of me. The scriptures are practical and have answered with ease all of the questions that I thought were beyond my grasp with logic that I cannot deny. I discovered that I didn't care anymore to understand me because it isn't about me.

    I still get upset when some Christian tries to persuade somebody with faulty logic like Pascal's Wager, especially when there are so many better arguments. I particularly despise the televangelists whose knowledge of God is probably less than an atheist's. I can say that now my thoughts are tamed and more focused and productive. A lot of the old paradoxes that used to amuse me are like childish games now. Most of all, I am happy and at peace. There is still plenty for me to contemplate. The problem was that before, I was starting with a faulty foundation, so all of my learning was shaky. The foundation which has been given to me now is sturdy and sure. I have questioned it and tried it, and have found it unshakeable.

    The Bible says that no temptation has taken you but that which is common to man. Don't think that you are alone in this. It may be a gene that makes it more prominent, but how we deal with it is up to each of us.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @10:01AM (#33626942) Homepage Journal
    It's probably hardwired to run away from cats or something. Unlocked, it might make the mice more curious or cause them to pause to assess the situation rather than just running. A split second could mean the difference between getting eaten and not getting eaten, so the hard-wired runners don't get eaten as much. Mice don't have to be a whole lot smarter to live as mice, but they do have to be pretty good at getting away from cats.
  • Well, I guess I'm glad you found something that would work for you. Perhaps. A lot depends on things you *aren't* saying. E.g., do you feel that your way is the only way? That everyone else should follow it? If so, then I'm *sure* you gave up on philosophy WAY too soon.

    I also found gods. Plural. (Actually, several different times I found a god, but it was different gods at different times.) I'm quite convinced that they are real, but also that they aren't a part of the external universe. Think of them as internal actualizations of Jungian Archetypes. They aren't purely mental, as they are built into the hardware (wetware?). And they are literally indescribable in language. I don't think they serialize, but even if they do communication through language depends upon similar experiences. The best one can do is attempt to evoke them in someone else. And even when this appears to be successful, it's impossible to be certain that what they experience traces back to the same thing you experienced. Only that it has certain descriptive elements in common.

    And anyone who actually reads the bible and is still inspired by it is reading it through very strong filters. You don't want to hear what it sounds like to me.

"Wish not to seem, but to be, the best." -- Aeschylus