If you’re like me and the radio news works as your morning alarm, and you’re pretty slow to get up, your last dream of the night can get pretty weird. Case in point – two or three mornings back Rick Moranis gave me this cool gun that could take away rodents’ fear. I tried it on a mouse hiding behind a chair leg and – voila – it started running around the open floor like it didn’t have a care in the world. Score, I thought. Infinite power! Then I dropped it out of a window and it became an old boot, and then I woke up.
As it turns out the real story is only a little less weird.
Geneticists breed a mouse without fear
Mice lacking the gene were slower to leave a wide open space. Normal mice scurried for cover. Mice naturally avoid being out in the open, the researchers note.
The mice without the stathmin gene also were less scared by a sound that they’d learned to associate with a mild foot shock.
The stathmin gene was required for the mice’s learned and innate fear, the researchers report.
There’s a practical use for gene therapy. I can have a kid who isn’t afraid of anything: running for president, social pressure, large animals with teeth, nothing. Humans have become the uncontested apex of the food chain. Do we even need fear anymore? Discuss.
Recommended reading: Gattaca, Aldous Huxley.