Human Cells Added To Their Brains Make Mice Smarter

human cells

Once someone lets them loose into a sewer and they breed freely, we’re in trouble. Scientific American writes:

In spring a band of brainy rodents made headlines for zipping through mazes with savvy navigation and mastering memory tricks. Scientists credited the impressive intellectual feats to human cells transplanted into their brains shortly after birth.

The mice benefited from human stem cells called glial progenitors, immature cells poised to become astrocytes and other glia cells, the supposed support cells of the brain.

Studies since then have revealed how extensively astrocytes interact with neurons, even coordinating their activity in some cases.

Our astrocytes are enormous compared with the astrocytes of other animals—20 times larger than rodent astrocytes—and they make contact with millions of neurons apiece. Neurons, on the other hand, are nearly identical in all mammals, from rodents to great apes like us. Such clues suggest astrocytes could be evolutionary contributors to our outsized intellect.


22 Comments on "Human Cells Added To Their Brains Make Mice Smarter"

  1. HoundsOArtemiss | Aug 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |

    Mrs. Frisby and Nicodemus welcome them.

    • Mrs. Frisby wasn’t genetically altered, though…she was just taught to read by her husband who was a genetically-altered mouse. (Therefore mice are already pretty smart in this universe, I gather. After all, they use medicine and know to move their houses when tractors are coming.)

      • HoundsOArtemiss | Sep 7, 2013 at 9:45 am |

        I never said she was, only that she welcomed them. Being that she married a mutant, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say she had no prejudice against mutant mice as a whole regardless of her normalcy. 😉

  2. Rhoid Rager | Aug 10, 2013 at 10:00 am |

    Is it the cells or the field they’re attuned to?

    • Calypso_1 | Aug 10, 2013 at 11:11 am |

      If, and this is a big if given the lack of evidence or model, there was a ‘field’, the ability to accesses the ‘higher’ part of it would have to be due to some physical property of the cells. Some completely observable, physiological/biochemical structure of the cells, no different than upgrading electronic parts, would be still be a necessary component of the process.

      • Rhoid Rager | Aug 11, 2013 at 6:53 am |

        If by ‘completely observable’ you are referring to something that has somehow been missed through scientific observation so far, then I really don’t have any counterargument, because I’m not well versed in biochemistry or physiology to make a solid argument from memory. However, if you would entertain the possibility that some causes of certain biochemical or physiological processes have been incorrectly attributed or wrongly theorized in some way, then this certainly opens the door to further theorizing. And if field-thinking has proven to be a fruitful mode of theorizing in so many other areas of inquiry, why shy away from applying it to biology? Further, as you most likely are aware, Rupert Sheldrake has offered a sophisticated pre-paradigmatic model of biological fields that certainly merits more attention than it is currently receiving, in my opinion. Morphogenesis is a mysterious process now, as electromagnetism was until Michael Faraday came along in the 19th century.

        • Ted Heistman | Aug 11, 2013 at 7:15 am |

          Sheldrake is not accepted by mainstream


          • Rhoid Rager | Aug 11, 2013 at 7:21 am |

            The funny thing is, if you read any Feyerabend, you might just be convinced that there actually isn’t any such animal as the ‘mainstream’, because that’s not the way science progresses. This whole ‘mainstream’ thing right now is just an illusion afforded only by the opulence of technology. It’s certain not to last.

          • Ted Heistman | Aug 11, 2013 at 7:46 am |

            I was being facetious. Without morphogenic fields I don’t think evolution theory makes any sense. It explains why things change but not why they stay the same among other things it can’t explain.

          • Rhoid Rager | Aug 11, 2013 at 8:54 am |

            I’ll try to fine tune my sarco-metre.

            As for genetically-based evolutionary theory explaining change, I’m not convinced it can actually do that even. Gould argued, persuasively in my opinion, that genes were mere markers for change rather than being the precursors for change. This is a nuance in the gene argument that’s been all but lost with his demise. The specifics of dynamic change–points of criticality–other than it occurs, and that’s it, remain a mystery. Prediction isn’t what inquiry is about. Inquiry is what inquiry is about. lol.

          • Ted Heistman | Aug 11, 2013 at 10:27 am |

            All good points There is a philosopher of teleology, I forget her name, that made a point that in order for natural selection to work there needs to be “traits” which don’t necessarily just “blink into existence.”

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

            Ruth Millikan?

        • Calypso_1 | Aug 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

          I do in fact entertain such possibilities. I have an expectation (as born out by history) that much of how we perceive the world now will be radically different in the future. There
          is a great deal of theorizing on the nature of mind going on. I ardently follow everything related to quantum effects in biological systems. There will be tremendous advances in these fields in the future and I would love for some of them to utterly paradigm shattering. However, at this point due to experimental and modeling limitations* we are simply in the infancy with these fields of inquiry.
          I like Sheldrake, his hypothesis is intriguing & may have factual basis in the nature of reality. Ideas such as these are very much at the forefront of my personal motivations for discovery & endeavor within the scientific realm. I am reluctant to call Sheldrake’s hypothesis ‘sophisticated’ (this is not meant as any slight whatsoever). There is simply not enough to his ideas as presented to compare it to other ‘sophisticated’ models.
          My primary point was, even if there are yet unrealized processes at work (and of course there are) they would
          be interactive at some level with elements of biology already known. In this sense there is no problem in continuing to interpret such effects within current models. As new discoveries are made they will either alter or be integrated with current understanding. I don’t see this as a limitation. The things we are discovering now keep my head spinning and are hard enough to keep up with,

          *Currently our computing power drags when trying to compute interactions with basic proteins much less entire

          • Rhoid Rager | Aug 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

            Care to share any of the specific sources (on the Web?) that you follow most carefully?

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

            Well many of the applied areas are highly technical and not integrated into ‘meta’-theories at this point. You have to know what you are looking for in journals. There is a great deal in quantum/computational chemistry.

            However, I think you would probably enjoy Stuart Hameroff’s site.

            His org hosts conferences on consciousness & there are lots of links to actual researchers, papers, etc. Still falls into the realm of theory and there is a great deal of criticism for many of these interpretations. You can get an idea of how far the practicing fringe of science is thinking in these areas.


            Things like this are what to look for to get less technical understanding. Just search for conferences that have vids or papers published.

            As to where my specific interests lie:

            i think from this you can see the challenges that present in discussing such a topic without the requisite background.

  3. Hadrian999 | Aug 10, 2013 at 11:13 am |

    hey it’s like being in a syfy original

  4. Anarchy Pony | Aug 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |

    Something something Rats of NIMH…

  5. BuzzCoastin | Aug 10, 2013 at 11:39 am |

    it’s about time!
    we’ve already seen what happens when you put mice brains into humans
    you get the political class of Der Homeland
    rats who steal, lie, cheat and kill for their little piece of cheese

Comments are closed.