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Deleting Certain Gene Makes Mice Smarter

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the break-out-the-ribonucleic-scissors dept.

Biotech 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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Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a brain. (5, Funny)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625794)

I can haz turnkey upgrade for 50$?

Re:first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33625816)

stupid first post. mod parent down. -1 unfunny. mod me -1 humorless douchebag

Re:first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33625904)

Mod me a cunt

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (5, Insightful)

berzerke (319205) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625850)

Unfortunately it's likely not. Evolution or God (your choice) rarely gives something for nothing. This gene is likely there for a reason. Disabling it will have some drawback, and it may not be an obvious connection.

I remember watching a show about genetics. They were talking about how humans have a genetic defect in a gene which governs the size of our jaw muscles. This defect means we bite with far less force than a chimp. But the show pointed out that a smaller jaw muscle, due to the physical attachments, allowed our skull to grow larger and with it our brain. Considering how well chimps are doing as compared to humans, I'd say the defect was actually a good thing.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (4, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626098)

Evolution is causal. Just because a cause existed 50 million years ago, doesn't mean that it's there right now. I think that if we had the opportunity to *opt* for a larger (or more efficient) brain in exchange for higher energy consumption, most of us would do it. Humans have tamed the environment, and therefor we change our surroundings, rather than them changing us. We need to take the harness if we want to continue to improve ourselves, and the path of genetic modification seems the inevitable one.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1, Interesting)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626408)

Natural disasters don't discriminate -- plagues do. In the past, anyone without a sufficient immune system would perish, and so would anyone with any significant allergy. The only things that can kill people en-masse now are large natural disasters, which don't care about your genes, or other people, who may care about your genes if said genes give your skin a certain pigment. Well, people can also starve, but good genes won't save you from that, either. Keep in mind that people may also die of cancer, but if they've already done all the "breeding" they were going to so far in their lifetime, then that doesn't effect the gene pool (same goes for all major causes of death over breeding age).

So, yeah, we're deluded and arrogant, but we've managed to at least change the way we're "naturally selected" into a more "unnatural" selection.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (3, Insightful)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626436)

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.

Yeah those damn insensitive humans oh and don't forget those wolves too I mean the forest is full of yummy berries and even mushrooms but all they want to do is eat those cute innocent deer.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626302)

Evolution is causal. Just because a cause existed 50 million years ago, doesn't mean that it's there right now. I think that if we had the opportunity to *opt* for a larger (or more efficient) brain in exchange for higher energy consumption, most of us would do it. Humans have tamed the environment, and therefor we change our surroundings, rather than them changing us. We need to take the harness if we want to continue to improve ourselves, and the path of genetic modification seems the inevitable one.

The issue is, if everyone gets this unlock, then whatever the gene was there to prevent cannot be prevented again. This is why genetic diversity is desirable.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (3, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626466)

Both statements are true. However, keep in mind that both would also apply to vaccination. We opt to alter our immune system in a certain way because, over a span of time, we found that it saves lives. There are always going to be anomalies, but that's why we have the ability to discern. We keep deadly plagues frozen even though they haven't been seen in the wild for decades, because these diseases may hold the key to solving problems in the future. Also, even if we do start altering our genes like changing clothes, not everyone is going to have the same taste -- our creative diversity will lead to the genetic one.
(yes, I'm being optimistic, we're probably going to design human weapons before we cure cancer, but it's going to take time anyway, so I'd prefer to think that we have a future rather than an apocalypse awaiting us)

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625910)

I couldn't decide how to mod this. I was leaning in favor of insightful, but to hell with it. I'm replying instead.

I wonder if this or similar genes could be responsible for "above average" intelligence in some people. It would seem to explain why the majority of people seem to maintain their seemingly low average. As I have contemplated what makes some people with above average intelligence different and how they can either tone it down or otherwise adjust comfortably into society, it occurs to me that this is just something that can't be "turned off" or "learned away." In many respects, it seems as uncontrollable as homosexuality. No one "decides" to be gay any more than anyone decides to be smart. (FWIW, I like women... I have contemplated going the other way and have concluded I just can't go that way and for quite similar reasons... nekkid women pictures have been giving me erections since I was at least four years old and I can't imagine it working any other way.)

Perhaps I am simply too contemplative, but that is something I simply cannot turn off except when I am sleeping. (and even then... is it really off?) By the age of 10, my contemplative nature led me to conclude there can be no God in the form it is currently being pushed on us and even if there were, I see to reason or purpose behind worshipping. (well, exposure to PBS and the clear existence of "childhood myths" such as santa claus and the easter bunny also helped in the process to be sure.)

But where does it all come from and why aren't other people like this? How is it other people are simply comfortable following without thinking about things and I am not? It would be interesting to know if this or similar genes are actually responsible. And like many homosexual people, I wouldn't care to change it even if I could -- this is who I am and I don't need to change me, I just want to understand me.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (2, Interesting)

Decker-Mage (782424) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 ;-).

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626010)

As I have contemplated what makes some people with above average intelligence different and how they can either tone it down or otherwise adjust comfortably into society, it occurs to me that this is just something that can't be "turned off" or "learned away."

Now that's just plain wrong.

In my youth, I lacked the discretion I gained with age. Thus, in my younger days, I spoke in a manner far exceeding the accepted capacities of my age, causing me to be looked upon as odd, unlikeable, or "the weird one."

As the years passed, I learned to "tone things down," suppressing my abilities in day to day interactions. I spoke simpler, broke down things that others considered complex to something understandable, and overall integrated as a more "normal" person. Note that I continued to get 90-100%, but because I was such an easygoing and average/fun person, my peers considered my intellect to be just natural and accepted rather than something to ostracize me on. Some considered it to be advantageous because, hey, get that guy on the project and BAM! A+!

So y'know, toning things down isn't impossible. My completely anecdotal evidence counters your anecdotal evidence. It's a learned skill just like any social skills. The only folks that probably can't tone it down are those with autism. For those who actually have Asperger's instead of self diagnosed, it's doable but more difficult to do without outside support.

I don't really consider "toning it down" to actually be dumbing yourself down. Speaking in a manner that isn't a pretentious a-hole is like speaking another language. Sure I can talk to the Chinese guy in English and demand he understand what I say, but that's not exactly a stellar way to present yourself. Learning to speak their language shows greater prowess on my part and puts them at ease too.

I gotta say though. I've been at it for way too long. Talking all educated like to my profs makes me stumble all over my words. Unless I effect an English accent. For some weird reason if I put an English accent on, I become less stumbly and more smooth.

And enough with the "I'm so smart! I'm an atheist!" shtick. It's been feeling masturbatory for a while.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (4, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626132)

How about we separate social abilities from intellectual capacity. Some people are smart, and since they don't notice that it makes them different, they become outsiders. Others are both smart and very perceptive, so they "modulate" their behavior according to who they're talking to. Yet others make a conscious decision that if someone else doesn't approve of the way they are, then that someone is at fault, and not them.

And to continue the theme: I'm an atheist, intelligent, knowledgeable, and a snappy dresser!

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626174)

Meh, I'll go with that. The idea that intellect and charisma don't come together is just something I disagree with. We aren't all regulated by stat points here.

Also, no you are not a snappy dresser. You just don't realize that your purple shirt, orange shorts, red shoes, and black cowboy hat are not exactly sexy.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (0, Troll)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626306)

""normal" person"

In many cases, "normal person" refers to a brainwashed tool who has no real mind of their own and looks at others hoping to gain acceptance. How utterly pointless.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626022)

Think about genetics as being the thing that determines your reason for being alive. It is not to be rational, not to be smart... understanding the world around you is helpful only in that it may help you make more things like yourself. Whether it be offspring or useful ideas, the point of your existence is to perpetuate your own genes and those like yours (you are 99.99% the same as me even though you don't know or care about me). Evolutionarily, having homosexuals in a family is like having grandmothers... its one extra person to help the family out who isn't adding to the family at the same time, so they can distribute thier energies towards those around them moreso than someone worried about their own children first. It's to the advantage of a group to have a few men and women who don't reproduce for that reason. Social groups only need so many thoughtful individuals... if everyone was like that though, it wouldn't work in a constant survival situation setting.

That's not to say we have the ideal proportion of thoughtful people for today's world or anything, just an explanation for why things are the way they are. You are either a child of god, pointless, or a vehicle for your genes. Choose which to believe.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626310)

It's interesting that you brought up homosexuality, what they have found is that the more older siblings(but especially brothers) a guy has, the more likely he is to be gay. It's not just that they don't add kids to the family, they don't compete for women with their brothers either. It's also interesting to note that a lot more men identify as exclusively gay than women, and a significant # of gay identified women end up with men.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626030)

I wonder if this or similar genes could be responsible for "above average" intelligence in some people. It would seem to explain why the majority of people seem to maintain their seemingly low average.

Not quite sure what you mean by that - but the intelligence of the majority, as measured by IQ, has been consistently increasing for generations now, it is called the Flynn Effect. [wikimedia.org]

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (3, Interesting)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626150)

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.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

ExtremePhobia (1326407) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626312)

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.

Right, but whether or not you seek to take the test shouldn't have any impact on your score. IQ is supposed to be a number that doesn't change for your entire life. If you got a 120 when you were 5, you should still get a 120 when you are 55 and that Environment and education changed a lot in 50 years. Really, you can only argue that people who have a genetic disposition to intelligence also have one to seeking to take an IQ test (I.E. dispostion to show it off). We know that's probably not the case though since a lot of intelligent people are actually withdrawn.

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." Trust me, your insurance doesn't cover a four hour IQ test administered by a Psychologist just cause you want to take one.

Unless you mean those flimsy online IQ tests? You know, the ones that take 10 minutes?

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (2, Interesting)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626502)

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:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626296)

The problem with the Flynn effect is that it does not account for the decreased usage of IQ tests in schools, employment and the military - which constituted the vast majority of usage. Whereas even 25 years ago you might have a pool of millions of results for a given populace, today you are finding that in some countries it has been hard to find 10,000.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (5, Insightful)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626130)

As I have contemplated what makes some people with above average intelligence different and how they can either tone it down or otherwise adjust comfortably into society

I'm sorry, but you come off as very elitist; "I don't fit into society, but I'm way above average and everybody else is too stupid (to understand me). That's reasoning in order to maintain a certain position you clearly dislike, but giving purpose to it by telling yourself you're "above average".

"Intellingence" is a very wide subject and is sensitive to interpretation: A bushman wouldn't be able to "do the intelligent things you consider intelligent", but you wouldn't survive long in his world. It's relative, but you victimize yourself and place yourself on top of other in a egocentrical "I must be better".

Perhaps I am simply too contemplative, but that is something I simply cannot turn off except when I am sleeping. (and even then... is it really off?)

Oh, woo me, the intelligent creature who suffers and is "always on". All those other stupid fucks sleep well and go about their meaningless lifes...

By the age of 10, my contemplative nature led me to conclude there can be no God in the form it is currently being pushed on us

I'm sorry, but that doesn't take "above average intelligence". And by all means, by the age of 10 you do not have a "need for a god" in a western midclass world where you're shielded from life, certain life events later who will make you cry you wished there was something or someone who is godlike. At 10, you lack certain insight and experience. I'm not telling you I believe in a god, but at that age you lack experience.

(well, exposure to PBS and the clear existence of "childhood myths" such as santa claus and the easter bunny also helped in the process to be sure.)

TV isn't life, get out, live a bit.

But where does it all come from and why aren't other people like this?

They're not around because they don't like hanging out by an isolated guy who feels superiour in his self-explaining of his isolation.

And like many homosexual people, I wouldn't care to change it even if I could

Don't mix intelligence, a sense of superiority with your sexual preferences and religion. You're not discussing on topic, you're just being an egocentric shortminded selfentitling dumbfuck.

I'm sure you feel you have all figured out already as well :)

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (3, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626180)

If you could counter these points and make the arguments that you did, then you can also observe that your reaction was visceral. It's entirely possible that he was being honest, and that on this site, at this hour, on a weekend, he could allow himself to be. I agree with part of what you've said (see what I posted above about social abilities), but your reaction "came off" as knee-jerk, and you could have argued back without assuming, or pointing out, that he seemed elitist. Also, this is Slashdot, who here *isn't* an elitist?? :)

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626266)

"I wonder if this or similar genes could be responsible for "above average" intelligence in some people."

What makes a person intelligent, exactly? The ability to memorize already established information, or the ability to form ideas and inventions of their own?

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33625936)

You do seem to be a good candidate for 'getting smarter'...

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (2, Interesting)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626108)

Surprising that noone noticed the reply titles "Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra"

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (2, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626192)

Bras have no genome. The line did not compute, and therefor was ignored by the parser. Your parser is either set to "verbose", or "display all warnings".

Remains to be seen if it's an upgrade (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626152)

Well, I'd say it remains to be seen if it's an upgrade or a downgrade. Forgetting stuff or needing more than one case to form a rule are there for a reason. If you met someone "upgraded" who upon seeing a yellow cat automatically forms the full connexion that all cats are yellow, and/or is unable to break that connexion afterwards, the thought would probably be less "upgraded" and more like "poor idiot".

The general evolution of the brain has been towards smarter. Something which only needed a gene to break to be an upgrade would have been selected instantly if it were indeed an upgrade, as genes break all the time.

And for that matter, if that gene is a downgrade, how did it get selected in the first place. Survival of the fittest is still the name of the game, and in this case we're not even talking outside colours or anything else blamable on sexual selection. So, really, how did a whole extra gene that causes a downgrade get there, if it's a downgrade?

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they'll test it to heck and back before using it on humans, and all that. They're scientists and all that.

All I'm saying is just don't get your hopes too high yet. It may well turn out to be a literal implementation of the Flowers For Algernon [wikipedia.org] story.

Re:Remains to be seen if it's an upgrade (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626214)

You're saying that this particular gene modification may have an adverse effect, which is possible, but there are some general attributes that define how "smart" we are. If we found the gene/genes that regulate/s how much we can remember, in the "long term storage" part of the brain, and modified it/them so that we could remember, say, twice what we do now, it would probably lead to "being smarter". If we changed it so that we never forgot anything, it would lead to insanity. If we move slowly and cautiously, we should, one hopes, learn to alter our genes to make us "smarter".
(* I kept placing the word "smart" in quotes since it's a very subjective term, not because I was being dickish...)

Re:Remains to be seen if it's an upgrade (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626356)

Well, at least theoretically it's conceivable that it would be possible to do a better job with the regulating proteins than nature did. After all, nature itself did an increasingly better job by trial and error, and it would be presumptuous to presume that whatever we got is nothing short of absolute, unsurpassable perfection. So, yes, it's conceivable that one day someone would encode a better protein than that gene does.

I'm not sure if we're at that point, yet, though. We know how to copy genes and we know how to break genes, but I don't think anyone really knows how to make a better one, or really even design one that only causes the effect to differ by a small amount.

We're essentially like a clock maker who knows how to copy a cog or lever from another clock, or how to break one, but even designing a 10% smaller cog is well outside the realm of what he knows how to do. That's really the state of genetic engineering nowadays. Fortunately, we have billions of clocks and trillions of cogs to copy around us, which is why we can still do some useful stuff. But designing a new one is really still right out.

So, yeah, it could happen. Given enough time, it probably _will_ happen. But if it needs to be more complicated than breaking or deleting or replacing that gene with one from a existing organism, I'm not holding my breath that it will happen in my lifetime.

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626230)

I can haz turnkey upgrade for 50$?

Sure. Althouhg, the push-button upgrade to give you the intelligence and dexterity to operate keys is a little more expensive...

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626402)

Althouhg

O, HAI!

See also:

U has got it nao?
HTH.
KTHXBAI!

Re:Cool, it's like Intel Upgrade Service for a bra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626236)

Why do I get the awful feeling that this explains the Tea Party?

Maybe it just works by overclocking? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626324)

And maybe the gene is there to limit the mouse brain from burning out too fast? It would be interesting to see if there were any differences in how long both groups live.

Whats the odds (1, Interesting)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625808)

Whats the odds that there are people quietly trying things like this on humans somewhere?

Re:Whats the odds (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33625824)

Hopefully they're trying it on niggers. They need all the help they can get.

Re:Whats the odds (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33625830)

Now the mice have the knowledge to alter human brains and speed up the calculation of the question to life, the universe and everything.

Re:Whats the odds (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625852)

But why do they need the question? They already know the answer!

It's FORTY-FUCKING-TWO

Re:Whats the odds (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626080)

It's FORTY-FUCKING-TWO

One after another or all at the same time?

Re:Whats the odds (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626226)

How could FORTY fuck TWO at the same time? Are you implying that FORTY has more than ONE penis? He's FORTY! He's lucky he can get it up!

Re:Whats the odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33625838)

Is that you, Jonathan? I thought you were dead.

Re:Whats the odds (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625984)

"Whats the odds that there are people quietly trying things like this on humans somewhere?"

Given the race for military/economic supremacy - highly likely.

Re:Whats the odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626014)

0.5

NamTar (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626024)

We know how this plays out already! Anyone remember NamTar [wikia.com] , the genetic experiment that grew from a dumb, small creature into a mad scientist bent on perfecting its DNA?

Re:Whats the odds (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626166)

Whats the odds that there are people quietly trying things like this on humans somewhere?

1 in 0 if they aren't, 1 in 1 if they are... so the odds are 1:2.

Very good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626334)

It's okay though. A scrappy anti-government type and his zany crew will inadvertantly bring it to light, causing discomfort to a number of ranking members of the Alliance, err, Congress.

Yeah! (4, Funny)

SigILL (6475) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625820)

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

Re:Yeah! (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625848)

Beats the hell out of a) Skynet and b) Zombie Apocalypse; you can at least lay out big chunks of cheddar with embedded IEDs and solve the problem with rats.

Re:Yeah! (3, Interesting)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625882)

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

Not much [wikipedia.org]

Re:Yeah! (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626172)

Actually, maybe I'm a pessimist, but I was more like reminded of Flowers For Algernon [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Yeah! (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625940)

Well, we might find out the Question whose answer is 42. After all, it is the mice's job.

Re:Yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626046)

When scientists get caught in traps built by their lab mice, they know they went too far.

Re:traps built by lab mice (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626076)

"When scientists get caught in traps built by their lab mice, they know they went too far".

But on a more positive note, I think I smell cheese just around yonder corner...

Re:Yeah! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626086)

Narf!

Re:Yeah! (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626106)

NARFing!!! Point! fjord!

Re:Yeah! (1)

TarMil (1623915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626224)

They're already smarter than us anyway. Aren't they, Douglas?

Re:Yeah! (1)

ControlsGeek (156589) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626340)

I think this may explain the difference between Pinky and The Brain.

Inability to forget is hardly smart (5, Insightful)

Filip22012005 (852281) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625828)

To call an inability to forget "smart" is a display of misunderstanding what learning actually is. Forgetting comes in many flavours, and while intuitively believe some forgetting may be related to "making more room", extinction learning is a rather finely-tuned mechanism of filtering relevant input from irrelevant input. Making that filter wider is hardly smart.

Re:Inability to forget is hardly smart (4, Insightful)

zes (1544775) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625958)

Exactly. My first thought was savant. There seems to me to be a balance between how many details one remembers and how well one can create abstractions. People who are very good at abstract thinking are so because they throw away irrelevant details and remember the bigger picture. Their pattern matching has gone up a level if you will.

The Rain Mouse? (2, Informative)

ConaxConax (1886430) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625834)

From TFA: "The lack of RGS14 doesn't seem to hurt the altered mice, but it is still possible that they have their brain functions changed in a way that researchers have not yet been able to spot. Besides being resistant to injury by seizure, certain types of CA2 neurons are lost in schizophrenia, and loss of another gene turned on primarily in the CA2 region leads to altered social behaviors, Hepler notes." More able to learn and remember, but possibly less able to function socially?

Re:The Rain Mouse? (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625858)

...Induced Autism in Mice/Rats?

Re:The Rain Mouse? (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626228)

But does it make them want to constantly watch Judge Wapner?

no Flowers for Algernon reference yet? (1)

solmssen (9448) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625890)

you people are letting me down...

Re:no Flowers for Algernon reference yet? (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625920)

Don't worry. It will be here in a second.

Re:no Flowers for Algernon reference yet? (1)

The Scooter King (166383) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626002)

I was gonna go all Rats of NIMH...

Re:no Flowers for Algernon reference yet? (2)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626264)

Flowers for Algernon is a hard one. It's a good story, but there's not really a common quote, or stand-out line that you can quickly drop to reference it.

Re:no Flowers for Algernon reference yet? (1)

solmssen (9448) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626278)

OK, so go Charly on me - a little Cliff Robertson in his beatnik clothes.

And here I thought... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625894)

...that Pinky & The Brain was fiction.

Re:And here I thought... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626114)

...that Pinky & The Brain was fiction.

Given that you used the past tense, you're clearly right.

Hmmm (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33625898)

I used to watch a documentary about this as a kid. Apparently this causes 50% of the mice to turn incredibly stupid, while the other 50% want to take over the world.

Makes sense (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625922)

It may be reasonable to hypothesize that deleting the certain gene makes you smarter because it seems that with smart people, the more they know the less certain they become about what they know.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626044)

It may be reasonable to hypothesize that deleting the certain gene makes you smarter

Think how smart you'd be if they deleted *all* your genes!

Re:Makes sense (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626096)

It may be reasonable to hypothesize that deleting the certain gene makes you smarter

Think how smart you'd be if they deleted *all* your genes!

I'm not so certain about that, but then again I'm not not certain about much of anything at all.

what about adding? (1)

arikol (728226) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625924)

And adding certain genes to humans makes them more.. mentally handicapped..

Sounds familiar (0, Redundant)

tomathy22 (1904330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625934)

Flower for algernon anyone?

Figure out exacty what it produces. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625992)

Maybe this could be used to create a new memory-improving drug. The effect would be temporary, but it's exactly what one might need before starting a pre-exam cram session.

Re:Figure out exacty what it produces. (1)

PrimordialSoup (1065284) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626012)

Try Modafinil...it is a cognitive enhancer...although how it acts on brain systems to enhance attention and memory is not known.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modafinil [wikipedia.org]

Makes mice smarter you say... (2, Funny)

Universum (1024711) | more than 4 years ago | (#33625998)

One is a genius
The other's insane.
They're laboratory mice
Their genes have been spliced
They're dinky
They're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain.

Turns out (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626020)

thats the gene responsible for creating sex drive. Without worrying about sex the mice can concentrate on solving mazes. The Seinfeld hypothesis is right(well for mice anyway, if it were right for humans I would be the smartest man on the planet :P)

Maybe (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626102)

it only increases the ability to recognize objects and navigate mazes (visual memory), but hurts other brain activities (reflexes, creativity, thoughts). Navigating mazes isn't really a trait that mice evolved towards.

Re:Maybe (1)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626364)

In the wild, mice live in tunnels under tree roots and in hills. House mice have adapted to living with humans and taken advantage of the warmth provided by human dwellings. Either way, they have to remember where food and water can be found, and the safest places to sleep.

Just about every creature with a hypothalamus (where route memories are stored, as well as being wired to the vision and audio pathways) will be able to remember all these things.

In related news! (0, Troll)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626206)

In related news scientists have discovered the so called "Religous Gene"

More at 11.

Reminded of Intel (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626220)

You know how Intel's charging $50 [slashdot.org] to unlock CPUs?

Perhaps living beings also have additional CPU capacity installed but turned off, requiring some payment for removal of the 'lock out' genes. Possibly in the form of prayers, homage, and sacrifice to the creator.

Or maybe there's actually an evolutionary reason why high intelligence is a problem.

That would explain this situation in regards to the stupidity of the average human.... high intelligence can lead to studying, which reduces time spent on reproduction-related activities, which therefore, reduces the number of babies, and might be disfavored evolutionarily.

Re:Reminded of Intel (1, Offtopic)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626286)

Hey, i first-posted a joke about Intel Upgrade Service in this thread over two hours before your post. I'm not trying to be a prick about it; I'm just curious. I find it interesting that you made the same connection in the same thread without seeming to notice mine.

Do you not read the threads at all, do you just skim over them, do you reply to the summary then read, or do you filter out posts moderated "Funny"? Maybe you filter out posts made by me, in which case I'd probably never get a reply, but you're not listed as a freak of mine or anything. Really, I'm not bitching about it. I'm just wondering how it happened, because it's something often seen and seldom addressed. Oh, there are "redundant" mods, which your post isn't because although we both mentioned the same humorous analogy from the front page I made a simple joke of it and you actually extended the analogy for further discussion. I'm just curious about the phenomenon of such disconnects between previous posts and later ones when obviously there's no time overlap between posts.

Anytime I see "smarter" and mice/rats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33626242)

I think of "Rats of NiMH"

Oh no, now we will extinct mice too.... (1)

Sobakus (1626345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626248)

Its been proved again and again that dinosaurs actually disappeared because they became intelligent...so instead of simply eating and breeding, female dinosaurs started to talk about compromise, and buying a house big enough for a family of brontosaurs, and shoes the size of a plasma TV....

How can you have sex with your triceratops wife when, whatever you say, you cant stop her to feel bad about her 10 tm weight? You are doomed to extiction....

And now the same will happen to mice. Its clear to me that those nerdy DNA hackers are all virgin WoW junkies...damn it!

Don't try this at home! (2, Interesting)

Boghog (910236) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Don't try this at home! (1)

Boghog (910236) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626282)

Opps, the above is reversed from what it should be. Inhibition of the RGS14 gene product would theoretically decrease visual memory while increasing hippocampal-based learning and memory.

Anyone Checked The Mice Lately? (1)

littlewink (996298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626258)

Hey! Who left the cage unlatched?

Escape? (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626260)

Am I the only one concerned with a smart mouse escaping and breeding smart mice in the wild? Once they can figure out a mouse trap we are all screwed.

Intelligence, a genetic deformity of the brain (2, Interesting)

Sqreater (895148) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Intelligence, a genetic deformity of the brain (1)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626394)

Hold on a minute there. I haven't read the PNAS article only the one posted on medicaldaily.com, but it seems to me that nobody has said anything about intelligence, or problemsolving ability here, only memory (although it is highly interlinked with intelligence).

Re:Intelligence, a genetic deformity of the brain (2, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626464)

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.

I wouldn't say that. It's more like there's a tradeoff: A bigger brain needs more energy to keep it working. If you're doing fine with a small one, there's no selective pressure in favour of a bigger one.

Look how long dinosaurs ruled the Earth without intelligence. Understand how long they had to develop it and did not.

There was no need for it. When you're big and scary, and can crush many smaller lifeforms effortlessly, there's no particular need to become smarter. We need intelligence because we have little else. Our sense of smell is crappy, our strenth is unimpressive, our speed is insufficient. The thing that ensured humans didn't turn into lunch for a bear was that they were able to figure out a way to deal with something that big, strong and scary.

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.

Two things. First, have you ever watched Discovery Channel?

We had needs for decent reflexes way before we started driving cars. Before that there were horses, and war, and wild animals. You think you can afford to react slowly when hunting or defending yourself, when all you have is a spear? Every millisecond you wait in front of a predator is a millisecond the predator has to jump at your neck. The environment can change quickly. A millisecond may make the difference between saving yourself and rolling downhill, if you manage to adjust your balance or catch on something in time.

Besides, our reaction speed isn't particularly impresssive. Try catching a fly sometime. Flies sure react quickly, and my cat seems to be significantly more successful than I at catching them.

Second, you have things exactly backwards. The "need" to drive cars is of our own creation. We didn't evolve to drive cars, we created cars and roads with our constraints in mind. Cars, roads, speed limits and braking distances are all made so that humans can deal with them. If our reflexes were twice as slow, we'd still drive cars, except with the rules and limits set to account for that.

It will void your warranty! (1)

gbl08ma (1904378) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626336)

Jailbreaking your mice is officially not recommended by Cheese, Inc.
Doing so will void your warranty and you will loose right to customer care provided by Cheese Inc., as well as you won't be able to use the CheeseStore!

---

Q: When we will be able to dump and decrypt the firmware of a mice in order to install some Linux or OSS firmware there, or put mice to browse the web and tweet for us?
A: When scientists discover the gene that is locking Bluetooth and WiFi communication, as well as cable networking using the tail of mice. (just wondering, how to put a RJ45 connector on a tail?)

Has no one yet welcomed our new squeaky... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#33626486)

cheesy overlords? No. No! I did NOT mean Christine O'Donnell. Really.

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