In a latest study, scientists found that clever mice are less anxious and fearful than ordinary mice, making their brains healthier than those of less clever ones.

However, it's not just that intelligent mice are healthier than ordinary mice — it's what made the mice intelligent that makes it more interesting.

A team of researchers from Britain and Canada blocked the phosphodiesterase-4B (PDE-4B) enzyme from mice to see if there would be a change in the animals' learning patterns, cognitive and memory skills and problem-solving abilities.

The research team, made up of experts from the University of Leeds in Britain and the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, published their findings after conducting a series of behavioral tests among genetically modified mice, on August 13 in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

"Our work using mice has identified phosphodiesterase-4B as a promising target for potential new treatment," said pharmacology lecturer Steve Clapcote from Leeds University, who also led the study.

In the experiment, the researchers saw that the genetically modified mice — PDE-4B-inhibited — tended to learn more quickly, remembered events longer and solved complex problems faster compared with ordinary mice.

Specifically, the researchers found that the intelligent mice didn't have much trouble recognizing a mouse they had seen the day before. In another test, escape platforms were hidden, and the PDE-4B-inhibited mice were observed to be quicker in locating the platforms.

Further, the researchers noticed that the clever mice recalled fearful events after several days less often than ordinary mice did.

In addition, the PDE-4B-inhibited rodents were observed to be more comfortable in spending more time in open and brightly lit spaces, because they had suffered less from anxiety than ordinary mice, who would much rather stay in dark and closed spaces.

Risk-taking behavior in the PDE-4B-inhibited mice had also increased, amusingly making them less fearful of cats as they were seen to be less scared of cat urine.

These findings further opened the possibility of finding new treatment for mental disorders like Alzheimer's, PTSD and schizophrenia. 

Photo: Tatiana Bulyonkova | Flickr

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