Sunday, October 16, 2011

One Gene Turns Wimpy Mice Into Dominant Leaders

Scientists have been able to manipulate social hierarchy in mice. They first tested each mouse to find its natural position of dominance or submission. When pairs mice came face to face inside a narrow transparent tube, the subordinate animal would retreat and back out of the tube. Some of the mice were injected with a virus that inserts a gene called GluR4 (which amplifies transmission of electrical signals) or R4Ct (that reduces transmission of electrical signals) into the part of the brain, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), that is responsible for emotion and decision-making. When the dominance test was then repeated, subordinate mice that had GluR4 became more dominant, while the previously dominant mice that had R4Ct became subordinate. The work could give new insights into the brain mechanisms that dictate social status in people and its effects on anxiety, motivation, addiction and relationships.
Posted by Astrojenny

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