Japanese engineer ‘fearless’ mice

December 13, 2007 at 11:43 am (ΔΙΑΦΟΡΑ) ()

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/12/13/japan.mouse.ap/index.html

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — The age-long animosity between cat and mouse could be a thing of the past with genetically modified “fearless” mice that Japanese scientists say shed light on mammal behavior. Using genetic engineering, scientists at Tokyo University say they have successfully switched off the rodents’ instinct to cower at the smell or presence of cats — showing that fear is genetically hardwired and not learned through experience, as commonly believed. “Mice are naturally terrified of cats, and usually panic or flee at the smell of one. But mice with certain nasal cells removed through genetic engineering didn’t display any fear,” said research team leader Ko Kobayakawa. “The mice approached the cat, even snuggled up to it and played with it,” Kobayakawa said. “The discovery that fear is genetically determined and not learned after birth is very interesting, and goes against what was previously thought.” The findings suggest that human aversion to dangerous smells like that of rotten food, for example, could also be genetically predetermined, he said. Kobayakawa said his findings, published in the science magazine Nature last month, should help researchers shed further light on how the brain processes information about the outside world

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: