Sunday, September 19, 2010

Real-life mice of NIMH

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. ...

Since RGS14 appears to hold mice back mentally, John Hepler, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Emory University School of Medicine, says he and his colleagues have been jokingly calling it the "Homer Simpson gene." ...

RGS14, which is also found in humans, was identified more than a decade ago. ...

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. ...

"The pipe dream is that maybe you could find a compound that inhibits RGS14 or shuts it down," [Sarah Emerson Lee] adds. "Then, perhaps, you could enhance cognition."
--Medical Daily on better thinking through genetics. HT: Gizmodo

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