X-Message-Number: 12395
From: "John Clark" <>
Subject: Doogie Mice
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 00:03:08 -0400

Thomas Donaldson <> in #12376 Wrote:

    >isn't mainly about intelligence but about means to increase our longevity.

There is a connection. Without memory survival is hollow, the idea that
Long Term Potentiation is deeply involved with long term memory has
been around for years but this is the best evidence yet that it's true.

    >However there was a previous experiment which did something quite
    >similar, at least in its results.

Yes, Manabe did it last year but this time it's much clearer why the changes
made to the mice have the effect that they do, and the testing done on the
mice was far more convincing. They showed that the Doogie mice were

superior on 6 tasks that are thought to involve 6 independent types of 
or memory. Previously the mice did better on some tests but were inferior on
others especially the water maze. In contrast Doogie is a renaissance mouse,
he's good at everything.

     >As for such work being "kick ass", I don't really understand why it
     >can be described that way.

I was overwhelmed because this was not found by accident, we're starting
to understand a little bit about how the brain works. They had
an idea that over expressing a gene would change a protein that
would increase the calcium positive ion flux into a neuron that
would facilitate Long Term Potentiation that would improve memory
and intelligence, they tried it and the damn thing actually worked.
If that doesn't deserve a Nobel Prize what does?

Back in 1995 (April 7 CELL) Jerry Yin improved the memory of
fruit flies, it seems a little mundane now but I was very impressed
at the time. Anyway, Yin said something that's still true:

        "The really stunning thing here is that manipulating just one
         molecule can perturb such complex behavior. There are a million
         ways you can muck something up but if you can improve a process,
         you're probably looking at something that's crucial."

The conventional wisdom has always been that intelligence must
involve hundreds or thousands of genes, and so to make
significant improvements in intelligence by genetic engineering
would be very difficult because you'd  have to change all of
the genes at the same time. It looks like the conventional wisdom
is wrong, at least in fruit flies and mice.

   John K Clark       

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