Much like a Gizmodo editor deleting a grammatical error in one of their posts, Emory University scientists have “deleted” a gene in mice that activates a mysterious region of their brains and transforms them into little furry works of genius.
The offending gene is RGS14. When scientists disabled it, the mice, without its seemingly debilitating effects, were able to remember objects and navigate mazes more quickly than normal mice. They became, in effect, Mensa mice.
Emory’s Dr John Hepler, who surely must moonlight at the Laugh Factory, dubs RGS14 the “Homer Simpson Gene”. When it is active, RGS14 is most active in the CA2 region of the hippocampus, that well-known region of the brain responsible for learning and new memory formation. While the hippocampus’ overall role is well documented, the CA2 region is a scientific unknown.
From an evolutionary standpoint, we must now ask why our brains contain a gene that makes us dumber. Disabling the gene does not appear to have any effect on the health of the mice, but Hepler concedes there could still be unforeseen changes or consequences that they just don’t know about yet. [Medical Daily]