Ignoring countless science-fiction movies warning them of the perils of tampering with nature, scientists are forging ahead with research to build a better brain.
Need a smarter noggin? Perhaps neurogenesis is for you:
The researchers engineered mice with a genetic switch that would turn off a gene that kills most new neurons in the adult hippocampus, thereby allowing more of these neurons to proliferate. The switch was turned on when the mice were injected with a specific drug, allowing the researchers to intervene only in adulthood.
The engineered mice performed better at a task that required them to distinguish between a chamber in which they had previously received an electric shock and a similar one with slightly different features that they'd experienced as safe. Sahay explains that pattern separation "is a mnemonic process that we use on a day-to-day basis in navigating our environments" and that it is needed to form memories and make judgments.
Link (Image: Amar Sahay)