Scientists Make Mice More Intelligent

October 12, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. cure / kyʊər / (n.) – a treatment for a particular sickness or disease
Example: Scientists are still looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

2. inhibit / ɪnˈhɪb ɪt / (v.) – to slow down or stop something
Example: Antibiotics can inhibit infection.

3. recognize / ˈrɛk əgˌnaɪz / (v.) – to be aware of someone or something seen before
Example: The dog recognized his trainer.

4. preference / ˈprɛf ər əns / (n.) – a liking toward something or someone over another
Example: Some animals share the same preference in food.

5. restore / rɪˈstɔr / (v.) – to bring something back
Example: The patient was able to restore his hearing after the surgery.


Read the text below.
Researchers have recently developed a group of mice that are more intelligent than regular mice.

The study was done in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and other cognitive disorders. By modifying a gene in mice, the researchers were able to inhibit the phosphodiesterase [fos-foh-DAHY-es-te-reys]-4B (PDE4B) enzyme. This enzyme plays an important role in a vertebrate’s organs, especially the brain.

During behavioral tests, the genetically modified mice learned faster, were better at solving difficult exercises, and had better memory than regular mice. The PDE4B-inhibited mice were also able to recognize the mice that they have met before. In a maze test, the same group also escaped faster than regular mice.

The genetically modified mice also remembered less scary events, thus resulting in less anxiety and less fear. The PDE4B-inhibited mice even showed preference in spending time in well-lit and open spaces, and exhibited less fear of cats.

While the experiment was done only to mice, the results may also be helpful in finding treatment for cognitive disorders among humans. However, further research is needed to determine whether the results will be the same for humans.

Another experiment, this time on rats, also found another substance that can help regain one’s cognitive ability—nicotine. In 2011, researchers introduced a disease similar to Alzheimer’s in rats to lessen their learning ability. These rats were able to restore the ideal level of their learning ability when the researchers treated them using nicotine. But like the previous study mentioned, this experiment also requires more research as nicotine is known to have negative health effects.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the researchers should try to do this experiment on humans? Why or why not?
·         Would you want to participate in scientific experiments? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What can people do to avoid having memory problems?
·         What is a common treatment for cognitive disorders in your country? Kindly discuss your answer.

October 12, 2015