Friday, March 23, 2007

Novel color vision in mice

This week in Science, a group reports inserting a human cone photopigment gene in mice. The mice actually developped the ability to perceive new colours, giving them trichromatic vision like us: "The researchers conducted tens of thousands of tests in which two different wavelengths or intensities of light were displayed on three test panels. Mice received a drop of soymilk as a reward when they correctly identified which panel differed from the other two. The genetically altered mice demonstrated their new visual ability by choosing the correct panel in 80 percent of the trials. By contrast, normal mice only chose correctly one third of the time, the score that one would obtain by guessing randomly among the three panels. "
Apparently mammalian brains adapt quite readily to new sensory inputs and it is possible to add, colours, but also smells and taste. This has obvious implications to evolution. After laser surgery, I'd like IR vision added please...


Kamel said...

I was literally just about to blog this. I guess you beat me to it. Of course my version would have included some of my adorable rodent pictures. If you want to take your own colour vision test to see if you need a cone transplant, check this link out.