Mice get the human language gene
From a New Scientist article:
DUBBED "the language gene", Foxp2 has been seen as key to the evolution of speech and language since its discovery in 2001. Now transgenic mice have been produced that make the human version of the gene, with dramatic results: their calls sound different from those of normal mice, and certain learning pathways in the brain appear to be enhanced...
...When his team compared hundreds of traits in the transgenic and normal mice, they found key differences in the rodents' brains and behaviour (Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.03.041). For example, the mice with human Foxp2 produce neurons that are more readily and lastingly calmed by repeated electrical stimulation. This process, known as long-term depression, is involved in learning physical movements...
...Intriguingly, Enard found that mice with human Foxp2 issue deeper ultrasonic calls than normal mice. The significance of this is not clear, but he discounts the idea that it could be a step towards human speech. "Mouse vocalisations are at best similar to baby cries," he says. "We will never be able to fully recreate human evolution in a mouse."
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