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March 27 2013

Mice get human brain cells and get smarter, too

Researchers who transplanted human brain cells into newborn mice said the rodents grew up to be smarter than their normal littermates, learning how to associate a tone with an electric shock more quickly and finding escape hatches faster.

The experiments are aimed at making models to study human brain diseases such as Huntington’s and schizophrenia, as well as nerve diseases such as multiple sclerosis. But the team at the University of Rochester say their findings also suggest that these brain cells, called glial cells, may very well be one of the important factors that make humans different from other animals.

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