Rat Made Supersmart — Similar Boost Unsafe in Humans?

Posted on: November 22, 2009

By modifying a single gene, scientists have made Hobbie-J the smartest rat in the world, a new study says.

A similar gene tweak might boost human brainpower too, but scientists warn that there is such a thing as being too smart for your own good

For years scientifically smartened rats have skittered through movies and books such as Flowers for Algernon and The Secret of NIMH. But Hobbie-J is anything but fiction.

The lab rat can remember objects three times longer than her smartest kin, the study says. Thanks largely to this memory boost, she's also much better at solving complex tasks, such as traveling through mazes using only partial clues to find rewards—a key method for measuring rat intelligence.





via Rat Made Supersmart — Similar Boost Unsafe in Humans?.

5 Responses to "Rat Made Supersmart — Similar Boost Unsafe in Humans?"

Interesting research. What I am unclear about is if the rat’s long term memory is the only thing being affected or is it his overall cognitive faculties as well? Liu said that we forget for a reason such as forgetting bad experiences, but I for one would be very interested in having savant capabilities. Being able to just blast through a 500 page medical book with perfect recollection sounds great to me. If overall intelligence is also affected, more the better. We have shown it works safely in rats, now all we need is a guinea pig to test this out on…

Unfortunately, John, this gene is also associated with increased sensitivity to pain. That’s a hard bargain.

Makes sense, because many of history’s smartest and most creative people have also suffered at time from psychological problems or social awkwardness.

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing i know.” – Hemingway

Well then, sign me up.

Woirking with the synapse and boosting neurotramitters was first done in roughly 2003. One issue is that researchers have found it makes the animals pain-sensitive.

One wonders if humans aren’t already boosted w Nr2B compared with closely related primates.

As for being an ethical issue, this only stops researchers that take public money in the West. Tsien could easily enough move to some other country…though he wouldn’t be doing much publishing. Or perhaps someone is already working in a private lab on this…the technology is so portable!


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