Human Brain Cells Make Mice Smarter

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Newborn mice injected with human brain cells — called glial cells — show signs of greater intelligence and improved memory, reports a new study. The treated mice find their way through mazes faster and also show signs of greater awareness of nearby dangers. The findings were reported this week in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Human glial cells have mostly be overlooked in brain science, while more glamorous neurons took center stage. Scientists are now theorizing that the evolution of glial cells was an important step in the evolution of human intelligence.

The study raises some interesting questions: Just how human is a mouse with human brain cells? Also, is it ethical to experiment on super smart mice? And, finally, has anyone picked up a copy of “Flowers for Algernon”? via NPR

Image: Computer artwork of nerve cells, or neurons (brown), and glial (support) cells (green). E.M. Pasieka/Science Photo Library/Corbis

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