Meet Hobbie-J, not your average Long Evans rat:
(photo from Medical College of Georgia)
Behind that unassuming beady eye lurks the smartest rat-brain ever engineered.
You see, Hobbie-J is what scientists Dr. Joe Tsien and Dr. Xiaohua Cao call a “transgenic rat.” Her dramatically increased intelligence is the result of genetic tinkering. By over-expressing little Hobbie-J’s NR2B gene (a gene partially responsible for learning and memorizing), she was able to remember the solution to mazes and games many times longer than her un-transgenic rat friends. She has also begun frequenting her local coffee shop where she enjoys conversations that compare the Bible and Roman mythology.
The NR2B gene is the neuron gatekeeper. It regulates the amount of time brain cells can communicate with one another. When the gene is over-expressed, the gateway stays open a hundred or so milliseconds longer. Apparently, that’s enough time to have a dramatic effect on memory and learning. Researchers hope that this will lead to more successful treatments for memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The findings and implications are pretty amazing.
Perhaps this means the rat world will finally start to appreciate inner beauty and intelligence instead of their current obsession with body image and fashion:
Patricia consumed only water and rice cakes for weeks before this shoot.