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Scientists Produce Fearless Mice

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the no-cheese-is-safe dept.

Biotech 499

Dotnaught writes "According to New Scientist, a Rutgers University geneticist has found that turning off a specific gene for the protein stathmin makes mice fearless. The story speculates that this research might improve treatment for phobias. It does not mention obvious military applications for the discovery. As noted in this Naval Officer's guide for managing fatigue, the use of amphetamines to stay alert, followed by sedatives to sleep, has a long tradition. Genetic treatments may offer an alternative to pharmaceuticals."

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499 comments

My Vision of the Future (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060771)

These mice escape and breed in the wild. Enormous of fearless mice terrorize the world's cat population. It's not going to be pretty.

Obligatory fearless mice joke... (5, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060824)

Three mice were sitting in a bar, each trying to impress the others with how tough they were.

The first one said, "When I see a mousetrap, I deliberately set it off, bench press the bar fifty times, then snack on the cheese."

The second one, not to be outdone, said, "Yeah? Well, every morning when I get out of bed, I stir in some cream and rat poison in my coffee. It gives me a good buzz that really wakes me up and gets me going."

They both look at the third mouse who, after a few seconds, gets up and says, "I don't have time for this bullshit. I've got to go home and fuck the cat."

Re:My Vision of the Future (2, Funny)

runciter44 (612783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060886)

In fact this situation is possible and not funny at all.

Re:My Vision of the Future (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060961)

In fact this situation is possible and not funny at all.
It was the night before Christmas and a creature was stirring. It was a mouse, a grey mouse, a lean and hungry grey mouse.
A slight breeze shuffled discarded newspapers in the grimy alley as the mouse crept a little closer to its prey. The tip of its scaly tail twitched in anticipation as it tensed its muscles for the leap.

With saliva dripping from its fangs, the mouse covered the intervening centimetres in a huge bound, jaws fastening viciously onto its prey, a high-pitched growl issuing from deep from within its belly. Snarling, the ferocious rodent tore at the flesh of its enemy, and the rottweiler leapt to its feet with a surprised yelp.

The mouse, every muscle shaking with anger and bloodlust, bit deeper through the rottweiler's fur, amost drawing blood, until the startled dog nipped its head off and swallowed it.
No, you're right, it isn't funny.

Re:My Vision of the Future (4, Funny)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060986)

In fact, I've seen a cat being chased by a mouse. Yes, a mouse, not a rat... Talk about a Bizarro-style experience ....

Re:My Vision of the Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060923)

I guess to combat said enormous fearless mice someone could work on a cat with two heads (aquabats song) and that will be the end of us all...

Science brings gifts of convenience to the modern man
Modern man then continues, continues to expand
But what happens when man creates something oh so wrong
Nature bites back in a big way...good heavens what have I done!

I kept it in a box, I watched it grow a lot
It chewed right through the lock and ate all the new kids on the block.

A scientist creates a beast in a secret laboratory
Nature plots revenge, it's blood that it seeks
That's where we begin our story!

The cat with two heads
Whoa, the cat with two heads...

College brought education to this privileged man
High school diploma a science major with a government grant
Four years later an experiment to mutate domestic pets
It turned into a nightmare so lock your doors and hide your hot dogs
This cat's upset...

Society's been so good to me, my parents paid for my college education
Majoring in biotechnology, created a beast and now it's after me!

(etc)

Re:My Vision of the Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14061073)

Wait.... if the current method of inspiring soldiers to stay in line is to instill fear into them to not abandon their posts, threatening them with jail, etc....

Wouldn't this have a rather nasty double edged sword? Soldiers who didn't fear their commanders? This might be a bad idea to impliment on a widescale.

Kinda reminds me of the Gem hadar of DS9 lore.... (Hey, it's slashdot).
Will we then need some kind of device to keep soldiers dependant on the military that kills them if they do not comply?

Australia will win the World Cup. U-r-gay you suck (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060774)

thats bullshit

Good old PCP (5, Insightful)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060775)

Whatever happened to the good old days of pumping soldiers full of angel dust to rid them of fear?

The non-military uses for such a treatment are pretty far-reaching. Would it be able to cure people that suffer anxiety attacks? Could children with night terrors be cured?

If the rats don't feel fear, do they also lose understanding of danger? That would be a pretty bad mutation.

Re:Good old PCP (5, Insightful)

general_re (8883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060788)

If the rats don't feel fear, do they also lose understanding of danger? That would be a pretty bad mutation.

My first thought also. There are some situations where fear is an entirely appropriate response - lose it, and unwarranted risks may start to become a problem.

Re:Good old PCP (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060792)

> Would it be able to cure people that suffer anxiety attacks?

Perhaps. For many people with anxiety attacks, they can be overcome by practicing whatever gives them the most panics. over and over, until it becomes re-learned that it's really a safe behaviour. If a treatment like this could be enabled temporarily, it might help.

Then again if there's no fear, there may also be no concept of 'safe' either, so when the treatment is eased off everything may fall back to how it was beforehand.

Much testing to be done.

Drug addicts are too easy to control... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060872)

Then again if there's no fear, there may also be no concept of 'safe' either, so when the treatment is eased off everything may fall back to how it was beforehand.

I would agree, except that, having adjusted to the "no-fear" brain chemistry, a patient would have no method of coping with their fears as normal people do, so they'd be in even more fear - of everything, rational or not - than a normal person.

My 'type this word' for this post is "atrocity", which I think is very appropriate...

Re:Good old PCP (2, Insightful)

blincoln (592401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060852)

Whatever happened to the good old days of pumping soldiers full of angel dust to rid them of fear?

Um, source?

From my experience, PCP would be a terrible thing to give soldiers. You'd end up with a Jacob's Ladder scenario where they become afraid of - and attack - friends and enemies at random.

Re:Good old PCP (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060862)

Re:Good old PCP (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060962)

Deaths via accidents and fires are common, and respiratory arrest can also lead to death.

What about the use of PCP causes fires?

Re:Good old PCP (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061035)

Re:Good old PCP (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061058)

I tend to think of stuff like this

Health Hazards
PCP is addictive and its use often leads to psychological dependence, craving, and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior. Users of PCP report memory loss, difficulties with speech and learning, depression, and weight loss. These symptoms can persist up to a year after cessation of PCP use. PCP has sedative effects, and interactions with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can lead to coma or accidental overdose. Use of PCP among adolescents may interfere with hormones related to normal growth and development.

Many PCP users are brought to emergency rooms because of PCP's unpleasant psychological effects or because of overdoses. In a hospital or detention setting, they often become violent or suicidal, and are very dangerous to themselves and to others. They should be kept in a calm setting and should not be left alone.


As more of the hazard of using the substance, rather than the off chance that some moron might burn their house down while on it. I might burn my house down making bacon.

Re:Good old PCP (1, Interesting)

pookemon (909195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061066)

You'd end up with a Jacob's Ladder scenario where they become afraid of - and attack - friends and enemies at random

I can remember at least one case where that happened during Gulf war II (Operation Iraqi Freedom). IIRC a Pommy Tornado was shot down (and I think there were other cases) by US AA. Guess we know why. ;)

Re:Good old PCP (1)

tabatj (927428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060919)

Would it be able to cure people that suffer anxiety attacks? Could children with night terrors be cured?

Actually, no. These rats were genetically modified, not given a drug. "Curing" people would involve fixing their genes before birth. Somewhat like in the movie Gattaca http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GATTACA [wikipedia.org]

Re:Good old PCP (2, Interesting)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061033)

I don't think rats have very much "understanding" of danger. Why should they? They have their instincts. Well, at least until now.

Which Batman episode was that? (2, Interesting)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060784)

The one were Scarecrow does Batman with a gas that took away all his fear?

That was awesome.

Re:Which Batman episode was that? (0, Troll)

Bad Ad (729117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060902)

did you even watch the movie??

seriously, you couldnt be further from correct even if you tried.

Re:Which Batman episode was that? (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061030)

Batman was around before the movie. Hence the... "Which Batman EPISODE was that" bit.

Won't somebody think... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060789)

of those poor elephants! Or ladies in the kitchen standing on a high chair!

Military applications make me shiver... (5, Insightful)

stirz (839003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060790)

Giving Methamphetamines to soldies to "stay alert" and to "strengthen confidence" has -sadly enough- a long tradition. As Wikipedia tells us [wikipedia.org] even the Nazis spreaded the drug among their Wehrmacht. What's the point of a government saying "Stay away from drugs!" on the one hand and willingly giving it to soldiers on the other?

Seems alright, I quit military service a long time ago...

Regards

Stirz

Re:Military applications make me shiver... (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060832)

What's the point of a government saying "Stay away from drugs!"

That's all you needed to say. There isn't two hands. Governments should butt the hell out and mind their own business.

Re:Military applications make me shiver... (5, Insightful)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060847)

How is this different to a Government saying "Don't kill people!" then putting guns and high explosives into the hands of soldiers?

The only logic here is 'do what we say and don't question anything.'

Re:Military applications make me shiver... (1)

stirz (839003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060871)

In the best case, an army is run but never has to shoot a real bullet at real people in combat. Drug application is a different story: soldiers on guard (a shift can be 24h and longer) might appreciate drug consumption if they assume it could help them performing their duty.

Re:Military applications make me shiver... (4, Insightful)

Mjlner (609829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060895)

"As Wikipedia tells us even the Nazis spreaded the drug among their Wehrmacht."

What do you mean, "even the Nazis"? A totalitarian government, emphasizing the military and denial of the individual, would be almost expected to do this. What is more scary, is that democracies, which we expect to respect and defend the rights of the individual, even to the point of restricting what the police and military can do, are chemically altering the bodies and minds of their soldiers.

Re:Military applications make me shiver... (1)

stirz (839003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060928)

Sorry Mjlner, as I am not a native speaker, I've apparently not made it clearly enough: I wanted to say that even 50 years ago, there was drug (ab)use for military purposes. Hence, this "news" is not quite as new as it seems :-)

oh lord! (1)

ionicplasma (820891) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060791)

They've done it now. We're soon going to have a demonic whorde of fearless mice taking down everything in their paths. Damn you, Science!

Re:oh lord! (3, Funny)

jouvart (915737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060905)

See, it was all as Douglas Adams predicted. This proves that mice really are pan-dimensional super soldiers waiting to be triggered. I, for one, welcome our new fearless rodent overlords!

On-the-fly...? (1)

Omicron32 (646469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060796)

I thought you couldn't change someones genes 'on-the-fly' - it has to be done before they're born.

Doesn't this mean we'd be breeding our soliders? Opening up a whole can of worms there if that's the case.

(IANAS)

Re:On-the-fly...? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060925)

As I understand it, it would be easier to "turn the gene on" than "off", because the gene produces a protein, so you would only have to introduce that protein "manually".

However, if you cannot remove the gene, there are other ways to prevent it from producing its protein. You can tinker with the transcription process (which parts of the ADN gets transcripted to ARN), or you can tinker with the translation part (how the ARN is used to produce proteins. That may not be easy, but certainly easier than removing a gene from the genome of a grown-up organism.

Re:On-the-fly...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060957)

Oops, as if my english wasn't bad enough... I meant of course DNA and RNA, instead of ADN and ARN.

Re:On-the-fly...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060963)

Sorry, but no.

Introducing the protein isn't changing the gene - it's changing the protein levels.

Tinkering with the trascription or translation process of a single gene is currently not possible (kill the mechanism for one gene, and you kill it for many others, too). It would be way easier to try to remove the gene from the genome of a grown-up organism (site-specific integration into the gene concerned via viral delivery or transposon or something).

Re:On-the-fly...? (1)

walders (838968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060930)

Your're right. These mice had their genes altered before birth, although the genes can be altered [jax.org] so that they are not activated or deactivated until after birth. With gene therapy [wikipedia.org], this could be used for soldiers, I guess. This is kind of changing genes on the fly. The other possibility is to produce a drug to knock down this gene or its pathway. Soldiers could then be given that drug before battle. Scary thought (for their enemies, at least).

i question the ethics of this (2, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060798)

IMHO, there are much better ways of curing phobias than resorting to potential treatments based on genetics. It's much easier to imagine military and other subversive applications to motivate this kind of research. Imagine it billed as a "cure" to shell shock and other combat-related situations. While its definitely interesting that we now understand fear a little better, removing fear, or even tinkering with its inner workings, seems nothing short of asking for disaster. We have fear for a reason, and methink moderating it arbitrarily to within parameters that we specify will be more challenging than it is worth.

Re:i question the ethics of this (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061072)

I assume that the gene itself won't be altered to cure phobias, but rather knowledge of the gene will help us understand the transcription process and be able to better develop drugs which regulate transcription of the gene.

Actually, after a little basic reading [wikipedia.org] it appears that Stathmin is more involved in learning the fear reactions, so regulating it wouldn't do much to correct an already existing fear. Although it is possible that fear reactions have to be consistantly relearned or reinforced, and so preventing the reconnection of the stimulus with the response may reduce the strength of a phobia. If this is true, then regulating such a protein would be very helpful in conjunction with desensitization therapy [wikipedia.org].

Apologies in advance, but... (1)

Ars-Gonzo (14318) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060808)

I, for one, welcome our new rodent overlords.

Re:Apologies in advance, but... (2, Funny)

Mjlner (609829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060914)

I think you meant...
I, for one, welcome our new fearless rodent overlords. I'd like to remind them as a trusted Slashdot poster, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground cheese caves.

And the name for this new mouse is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060813)

MIGHTY MOUSE !

a new superhero is born

Anyone see Equilibrium? (4, Funny)

vodkamattvt (819309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060821)

So we got fear, now there are a few more emotions to get rid of and we can make Equilibrium come true. Now that's practical applicaton of science.

Uprise timid cubicle workers! (1)

goobster (880542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060823)

I'm looking for my stapler... It is a red Swingline stapler. "I'm gonna! Burn the building down!"

Danger Mouse (5, Funny)

wenchmagnet (745079) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060827)

He's The Best
He's The Greatest
He's The Greatest Secret Agent In The World!
He's The Ace - He's Amazing...
He's the Strongest... He's The Quickest.... He's The Best!

I hate you parental units! (2, Funny)

mbarron (673170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060828)

GeneEnhanced mice children grow up even faster without fear of their parents. Leaving them without a rigid sense of boundaries, invarively leading to the inhanced mice killing their parents for the inheritance.

Till the day when they have their own children, these second generation child mice reject their parents just like the previous generation rejected their parents.
Leaving killing the child mice as the only solution, before they become too grownup and strong to stop.

Thus putting an end to the whole experiment, as the original generation dies when they finally turn on each other in boredom.

The obvious political applications (1)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060830)

An electorate that's willing to fight for what little remains of democracy, and representatives unafraid to do what's right - and for this it cannot come too soon.



(Please, no comments about a possible Ben/Socrates ticket.)

Isn't fear important? (2, Insightful)

Maavin (598439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060837)

I don't think that an army of fearless soldiers would be that effektive.

Imagine hordes of these running fearless into machinegun fire... Very effective, I presume....

Fear often prevents us from doing really stupid things. So far this worked good along evolution...

Re:Isn't fear important? (1)

fmwap (686598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060876)

Imagine hordes of these running fearless into machinegun fire... Very effective, I presume....

Operation Human Shield!

Re:Isn't fear important? (2, Funny)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060899)

Imagine hordes of these running fearless into machinegun fire... Very effective, I presume....

Been there, done that. We called it World War I

Re:Isn't fear important? (1)

Zentac (804805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061041)

you where there? you must be one of te oldest slashdot readers, wow thats pretty cool, tell us about geekdom in those days

fear is a good thing (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060873)

people nowadays like to talk about fear in ideological and propagandistic terms, but fear keeps you alive. it keeps you from wandering into traffic or picking fights with random people. if this were ever applied to humans, you wouldn't have superhuman heroic fighters for the military, you'd have guys shooting themselves with their own guns and jumping off roofs... why not, when you're not afraid of anything, including death

Re:fear is a good thing (2, Insightful)

Private Taco (808864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060974)

Fear (in moderation), like so many things in life, is essential. Deciding which fears to heed is the tricky part.

Re:fear is a good thing (1)

PeDRoRist (639207) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061067)

Exactly,
Fear is necessary as it keeps us from doing stupid things, and I feel that is even more important for soldiers. Would a fearless soldier be able to correctly evaluate a threat and deal with it without taking unnecessary risks (eg. running headfirst into a room without checking for booby traps or potential dangers first)? I doubt it.
I think in a combat situation it's actually positive to be afraid -provided you're experienced and know yourself enough to manage it- because it makes you extra careful and thus increases your chances of surviving. Moreover fear in front of an immediate danger can give you an adrenaline boost that may very well save your life (faster running, altered perception of time, tunnel vision...)
That's natural selection actually. Those fearless mice would probably have a lower life expectancy than their non genetically engineered counterparts, if they were to live outside a lab. I think the same goes for troopers.
Now, if this enables soldier to know control, and actually use their fear on the battlefield to their advantage, If it can help saving (friendly or unfriendly)lives, that's good. But let's not play with fire here.
On a somewhat related note, I've been canyoning last summer, and at some point there was an optional 10 meter dive into a very cold river. I chose to go for it, eventhough I was afraid to. I jumped but ended up with a nasty back injury -Spiderman 2 style. I wish I had listened to my fear and self-preservation instinct, because it keeps hurting today.

What a twist on "28 Days Later" (0)

ConfusedGuy (791335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060883)

What is the difference between "Rage" and "No Fear"? If you don't fear punishment or even death, what's to stop you from becoming a megalomaniacal criminal ready to kill and steal?

I can't wait until the entire British Isle is teeming with people infected with "Fearless." And to think it's all going to start with the wrong group of animal rights activists letting these supermice out.

Re:What a twist on "28 Days Later" (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061047)

"If you don't fear punishment or even death, what's to stop you from becoming a megalomaniacal criminal ready to kill and steal?"

Well, I don't know. If it wasn't for my fear of punishment I would be on a killing spree right now </sarcasm>

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14060884)

Now we are in a position to finally answer the question: If superman and mighty mouse fought, who would win?

Military applications ? (5, Interesting)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060917)

It does not mention obvious military applications for the discovery.

That's because there is no military applications. You don't want the soldiers to become fearless, because if they do, they might say: "This war is wrong. I used to be too afraid to do anything about it, but now I suddenly feel fearless, and will get the heck away from here !" Basically, fearless soldiers will refuse to obey when given orders that they think are wrong, and cannot be forced to obey by fear of punishment.

What you want is soldiers that are more afraid of their commanding officers than the enemy; that way they'll follow orders.

wrong (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060983)

fear is biological, not ideological

fear is about avoiding predators, not what kind of partisan brainwashed victim you are, either from the right or the left

but don't let me stating the obvious stop you from spewing more of your braindead propaganda against more of their braindead propaganda

right or left, i'm so sick of partisans

Are you a Russian general? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14061024)

Uncle Joe is that you?

Why wouldn't they be fearless? (2, Funny)

TheLoneDanger (611268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060940)

Why the hell shouldn't they be fearless, when they are now regenerating [slashdot.org] too? Goddammit, we have to stop this madness before we are overrun by marauding fearless regenerating mice. The irony is that we need many, many more fearful, even irrationally fearful peopl to avert this impending horror. Scream with me people! "The Mice are coming! The Mice are coming!"

Side effects (1)

CrimsonScythe (876496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060944)

Not all was good; the potential drug seemed to have some side effects.

Although the mice became fearless, their mobility was reduced due to the vast increase in the size of their testicles, which also seemed to have taken on a shiny metallic tinge. The researchers were also sceptical about the military application for covert operations based on the loud clanking noise that resulted when the mice moved.

on testing (-1, Flamebait)

lrnzcpmn (870433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060953)

It is just a waist of money.
Test on animals (it does not make any difference which kind of animal) are not ethical (What is the point of this research ? So we can make a kind of super soldiers who can kill without remorse or fear? A great leap forward for mankind ! Or make some genetic modification so that anxious people are not afraid anymore... come one people do we really believe that gene therapy or pills are the solution to everything? )
Besides the results of animal testing are almost impossible to translate to humans , just because mice are mice and humans are well ... just humans.
We should really question if we really want to fund this kind of research.

A fearless soldier is a crap soldier (4, Funny)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060956)

"Hey check this out, I'm not in the least afraid anymore. Hmm, I wonder what it feels like to plough an airplane into the ground on full afterburner. Whee, fast! Hello mr cornfield. Ooh, a scarecrow. My, that ground sure is big."

Fearless until... (1)

Slashcrunch (626325) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060967)

Fearless until you throw the boy mice in a room full of SEXY! lady mice. Then they get all cowardly again, back to running on the treadmill.

so ...War on Terror vs War on Drugs (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060972)

hmmm, complex, do we now get to see George Bush and Tony Blair tell us drugs are ok as long as you're one of the good guys? Maybe the crackheads who live down the road from me in that smashed up house are actually ultra elite commandos keeping me safe from the Axis of Evil Unknown But They Are Really There Terrorists which are all around us these days? maybe they're a bit like the the rangers in Lord of the Rings, I think they are outcasts but actually their curious ways and p*ssing in our hedge is just a cover while they protect us innocent little people from the evil threat which will surely destroy civilisation if it wasn't for them?

one protein for fear, huh? (1)

FlippyTheSkillsaw (533983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061005)

Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

Biological systems tend to reuse proteins for a lot of things, and when you're dealing with something as complicated as fear, you're certainly going to have some crossover.

For example, imagine that this protein is involved in memory. Turn off the protein and you are unable to remember things for more than 5 minutes. This is going to manifest itself as fear would, in that you won't have any inhibition due to past experience, which would be similar to being fearless. Fearless like a goldfish.

Then you get into the whole cortex thing(i.e. not in mice, but in humans). Having a cortex almost certainly moves the center of the brain which handles fear around in space.

No, it doesn't cause fearlessness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14061010)

This is the stuff media latch on. You know in the 1960s this guy Delgados discovered the TAMING CENTRE OF THE BRAIN? Oh yea what it did was it made animals dizzy. Cause you see, dizzy animals tend to sit down all confused, and therefore appear tame.

There was also a discover of a very special part of the brain. If you destroyed it (now known as the prefrontal cortex), people would become completely docile. Oh right, that was the LOBOTOMY. Anyone remember those good old days?

Anyone with half a clue will tell you that the amygdala does not "control" fear. It's idiotic to ever believe there is some type of "center" for ANY complex process. The visual cortex at the back of your brain, the one you learned about in highschool? The only thing it looks at is contrasting edges, and thats about it. It is not the visual center. Don't get me wrong, the amygdala is crucial for fear. But if you're afraid of snakes, and someone took out your eyes, and there was a snake in front of you, you wouldn't be afraid either. Aha, the visual system must be involved in phobias! *snort*

Occam's Razor/Morgan's Cannon: The simplest explanation is the most plausible.

Phobias are complex cognitive processes. A "fear response" in a mouse is most simply reduced anxiety or increased stress, very basic physiological processes.

This is a protein modification. But there is an easily accessible drug that also reduces "fear". It's called alcohol (alcohol-fed mice also display lowered stress in novel situations, and are more likely to take risks). But we all know what alcohol really does right? It makes you stupid. Stupid people don't learn not to touch a hot stove after burning themselves. Stupid people have no fear. /has no Slashdot account because he rarely visits it //doing spatial learning research with Fragile-X gene knockout mice, so has somewhat of a clue what he's rambling about

No Fear = Terrorists Lose ! (1)

Chaffar (670874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061050)

Since The Terrorists' (tm) goal is to create fear, this new drug will allow us to finally defeat the evil-doers!

If we are immune to fear, then there is nothing they can do to scare us.

For those still unconvinced, the drug should be taken in combination with this other new drug, one that suppresses critical thinking, another totally unnecessary brain function.

Yours Truly,

Your Government

Something similar with a vaccination side effect (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061054)

About forty years ago, a neighbour's child was damaged by a rare adverse reaction to a vaccination (cannot remember which one). One of the most striking affects was that the child became completely without fear of anything. By this, I do not mean antisocial in any way. He was a really nice kid but had lost the capacity to feel fear. The consensus was that this was very dangerous.
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