Let’s call him Mr. Frisby

Seen it.

Mice transplanted with a once-discounted class of human brain cells have better memories and learning abilities than normal counterparts, according to a new study. Far from a way to engineer smarter rodents, the work suggests that human brain evolution involved a major upgrade to cells called astrocytes.

Step two: inject those astrocytes into rats and give them modafinil. In a couple months they’ll all break out, start a competing lab and use what they know about your work to write a better grant and take your research funding. Think, people!

85 replies
  1. 1

    Thank you for getting the name right.

  2. 2
    Tara the Antisocial Social Worker says:

    Paging Christine O’Donnell: Mice with fully functioning human brains!

  3. 3
    Comrade Mary says:

    Step three: Tickle the rats. Because.

  4. 4
    me says:

    “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    So long, and thanks for all the fish cheese.

  6. 6
    gbear says:

    the work suggests that human brain evolution involved a major upgrade to cells called astrocyte

    Can I get an injection of those please? It’s been a shitty week.

  7. 7
    General Stuck says:

    Step two: inject those astrocytes into rats and give them modafinil. In a couple months they’ll all break out

    Some could run for senate and filibuster on the senate floor.

  8. 8
    MikeJ says:

    @me: The same thing we do every night Pinky. Try to take over Balloon-Juice!

  9. 9
    Howard Beale IV says:

    Seems like modafinil is becoming another ‘wonder drug’ capable of curing any number of maladies. Too bad when I tried it it made me sleepy when I was looking for an ADHD remedy.

  10. 10
    catclub says:

    @NotMax: What were the names of the mice in The Hitchhikers Series?

    ETA: I know they performed amazingly subtle experiments on humans by running mazes in different ways.

  11. 11
    Crusty Dem says:

    Please tell me you don’t actually believe this garbage. Science has become a complete joke journal, I’d trust it more if it came from the onion.

    ETA: not published in Science (just their summary), so maybe it’s possible. Still way more likely to be some epiphenomenon.

  12. 12
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Comrade Mary: odd. I played that video of the sand frog that was posted the other week and my cat went freaky hunting for it. Laughing rats get no response. Some help he’ll be.

  13. 13
    NotMax says:


    Frankie and Benjy Mouse.

  14. 14
    Xenos says:

    They say animals don’t worry
    You know animals are hairy?
    They think they know what’s best
    They’re making a fool of us
    They ought to be more careful
    They’re setting a bad example

  15. 15
    Redshirt says:


    Despite all my rage, alas! I am still just a rat in a cage.

  16. 16
    Suffern ACE says:

    I wonder what mice reminisce about. They might just be bitter that their youth was wasted in meaningless one night stands and pellet binges and start looking for something real.

  17. 17
    Face says:

    @Crusty Dem: Huh? When did it become a “joke journal”?

  18. 18
    Wag says:


    What we do every night. Take over the world!

  19. 19
    Fred Wertam, Jr. says:

    I thought the mouse’s name was Algernon.

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Howard Beale IV:

    Fish oil
    . But I found out the hard way that it causes heartburn in some people.

    Also, Cogmed was amazingly helpful for me with memory and executive brain function, though it’s a pretty big chunk of money to spend and very few insurance plans will cover it.

  21. 21
    Xenos says:

    That modafinil sounds like good stuff, though. My brain is feeling old and sleepy just when I need it to be young and flexible.

  22. 22
    dr. bloor says:


    tep two: inject those astrocytes into rats and give them modafinil. In a couple months they’ll all break out, start a competing lab and use what they know about your work to write a better grant and take your research funding.

    Step three will probably involve a Harlem Shake video.

  23. 23
    👽 Martin says:

    ZOMG! Christine O’Donnell was right.:

    “They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they’re already into this experiment.”

  24. 24
  25. 25
    sm*t cl*de says:

    “Let’s call him Mr. Frisby”

    What is wrong with ‘Algernon’?

  26. 26
    danimal says:

    Hmmmm, according to my crack research team, Mrs. Frisby’s son is named Timothy. And this post was written by Tim F. I’m making connections here. Very interesting, indeed.

  27. 27
    jl says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    ” Step three: Tickle the rats. Because. ”

    With astrocytes, the rats will emit affectionate wisecracks and snark, instead of just chucking.

  28. 28
    pokeyblow says:

    Any way we can deliver those cells through chewing tobacco?

  29. 29
    Mnemosyne says:

    Speaking of mice, here’s quite the fascinating employment lawsuit involving one.

    I would like to be clear once and for all that, while I do work for the Giant Evil Corporation, I do not work in that department. Thank goodness. Though it’s very odd to read a story about a sexual harassment mess where you know you’ve spoken to and/or emailed two out of the three people involved.

  30. 30
    catperson says:

    @Crusty Dem: I rarely end up reading basic science journals. Why does Science suck now?

    @Suffern ACE: I bet they wish they’d paid attention to more TED talks.

  31. 31
    jl says:


    I am puzzled too. The article was published in Cell: Stem Cell, and that article was reported in Science.

    Which of these science journals ‘suck’ and why?

    The tone of the commenter who said that reminds me of medical students who start dissing JAMA as a high class junk journal once they decide where they want to specialize.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    jl says:

    @HI: My money is still on the water bears. Sure, you go make a super intelligent telepathic rat. But can than they curl themselves up into a cyst that allows them to come out at opportunistic times and survive the coming epoch of global warming, and then do just fine at a googlezillion degrees below zero for a snowball earth or two?

    Ha, these damn NIH rats think they are the next hot thing in global domination. But do they have a surprise coming.

  34. 34
    catperson says:

    @jl: Heh. The “junk” journals are pretty useful.
    I’m open to the possibility that Science or Cell have had editorial changes that make them suck, but it seems unlikely.

  35. 35
    catperson says:

    @jl: That should totally be a Michael Bay movie.

  36. 36
    Anne Laurie says:


    What were the names of the mice in The Hitchhikers Series?

    My first thought was “Miss Bianca, and Bernard”. Wrong series.

  37. 37
    dance around in your bones says:

    Fish Heads, Fish Heads, roly poly fish heads

    Just because.

  38. 38

    @Anne Laurie:
    The Miss Bianca books are amazing. Mid-20th century British social class commentary, satire of romantic relationships and sexual desire, a deep, slow tragedy, and heroic mice. I try to leave room in my heart because people love the Disney movies for what they are, but the movies are if anything the opposite of Sharp’s intent as the author. You will be spared the VERY lengthy rant I always have prepared on this subject because I’m falling into bed.

  39. 39
    mattH says:

    What we really have to watch out for is Lobster brains uploaded to the internet and brain-spliced cats.

  40. 40
    dance around in your bones says:

    What were the names of the mice in The Hitchhikers Series?

    Franky and Benjy.

    I bailed from the totally depressing Fair Game movie about Valerie Plame, and was dialing around looking for something funny. I saw Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and excitedly clicked on it, only to have fucking DirectTV tell me “you are not subscribed to this channel”.


  41. 41
    Dr. Mouse says:

    Soon your cheese will be all ours and there is nothing you and your feline friends can do about it…

  42. 42
    Yutsano says:

    @Anne Laurie: You just made Mnem cry. But maybe not.

  43. 43
    jl says:


    Huge super intelligent cats with giant lobster claws and whiskers! Gah!

    Well, Cole has survived Tunch. Might not be a bad life if you don’t mind being an subservient underling.

    We can ask Cole.

  44. 44
    Joel (Macho Man Randy Savage) says:

    Algernon would also be apropos.

  45. 45
    Felonius Monk says:

    Wonder if this will also work for those that sit on their “Brains” or those that think with their Dicks?

  46. 46
    opie jeanne says:

    Just slightly off-topic, but I’m seeing the ad for Truth about the FEMA coffins.

  47. 47
    Yutsano says:

    @opie jeanne: You ALMOST make me want to disable NoScript. Almost.

  48. 48
    opie jeanne says:

    @Felonius Monk: The only question is where to make the injection.

  49. 49
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Yutsano: NoScript and Adblock Plus are a Godsend for the Intertubes.

    I just never see the ads (not gonna buy anything off them anyway). It makes for a much calmer Intertube experience – not to mention safer for your machine. My 2 cents :)

  50. 50
    opie jeanne says:

    @Yutsano: I had to track down the origin of that photo and what I came upon was a 2008 YouTube with people telling about how they encountered a field full of 120,000 of those things owned by the CDC, which are actually grave liners but no, these guys weren’t buying it. See, you can stack them, and you can fit 4 or 5 adults into each one, so they have to be “disposable” coffins. All coffins are disposable.

    The funniest part was that two of them claimed that they were at a meeting with all sorts of important Senators and Congressmen but the only one they could name was Saxby Chambliss and he wasn’t there. INstead he had sent a Representative who was head of the House Armed Forces Committee but neither of these guys could remember his name. Now, if they really meant the House it would have been Floyd Spence. If they meant the Senate it was John Warner, but whoever this guy was he told them that within the next 10 years the US would experience a devastating nuclear attack from terrorists who had gotten their hands on Russian weapons, etc. and we could expect millions of people to be wiped out, so this fellow had sent someone to set up thousands of temporary morgues all over the country.

    By my calculation they are about three years late on this prophecy. Oh, I didn’t mention that the last guy talking was a pastor of some sort and I think this was an End Times presentation.

    It would be funnier if these people weren’t hoping for it to happen.

  51. 51
    opie jeanne says:

    @Yutsano: Oh, the ad didn’t explain the FEMA coffins, it was just a come-on for a course in survival and I think the company is an MLM because all of the comments seemed to be about what a great business opportunity it had been for them.

  52. 52
    Eric U. says:

    @opie jeanne: I’m seeing the fema coffins too, and I am shocked to learn that they are multi-body size coffins. You could easily get 12 bodies in one of them. Looks like they are about 2′ longer than the 99th percentile male, so you could also bury a stack of bibles with the dozen bodies. Convenient.

    As a result of searching for what that thing actually is, I have learned that funeral directors earn frequent flier miles when they ship a dead body. Nice

  53. 53
    General Stuck says:


    I would like to be clear once and for all that, while I do work for the Giant Evil Corporation

    I wish you would stop referring to the house that Mickey built as “evil”. You don’t know how upsetting that is for some of us.

  54. 54

    @opie jeanne: There’s another funny-looking one about a video that has been “BANNED BY FEMA”. I have not clicked on it. I’d guess it goes to the same place.

  55. 55
    Yutsano says:

    @opie jeanne: Ugh. I r quite disappoint. I salute your courage for clicking. Next meet-up I’ll get you a drink. :)

  56. 56
  57. 57
    opie jeanne says:

    @Eric U.: The funeral industry is a wicked thing, but there is this good thing called The Funeral Law. It says, among other things, that you don’t have to buy the coffin from either the cemetery or the funeral home, you can save between 70 and 90% by going to a “coffin boutique” and California state law does not require embalming.

    I have buried four people since 2003, my dad was the latest last September at age 94. When Mom died he was amazed at the difference in prices for the exact same items. We actually spent less on him, ten years later because we used a funeral company that had been in business for 4 generations but no longer has the Million dollar brick and mortar facility for services. We used Dad’s church for the memorial service a couple of hours after the graveside service. With Mom there was an open casket viewing before her graveside service, which added to the cost. Dad and I think… thought they are barbaric, so we didn’t need the Viewing Room. When I took my sister to co-sign the paperwork at the cemetery they left us alone in a very chilly room for about 15 minutes, enough time for us to discuss the dreary funeral decor, and for me to spot the bronze caskets that go around the coffin, inside the grave liner. She was shocked by their nerve and amused that we had avoided these unnecessary expenses. She hadn’t participated with the arrangements for Mom so she was really unaware.

    Alas, there is no Cemetery Law to go with the Funeral Law, but too many southern members of the House own interests in those.

  58. 58
    opie jeanne says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: It’s basically the same thing, maybe from another company ripping off the rubes.

  59. 59
    opie jeanne says:

    @Yutsano: I will sometimes get out of the boat for the mangoes, but not often. David was fascinated just hearing the guys talk. They might have been a bit more persuasive if they had bothered to look up the name of the Rep who supposedly told them about this pending attack.

    Oh, and when I was looking for the FEMA coffins I spotted a link for FEMA prison camps, where guillotine training is being held. I did not click on that one.

  60. 60
    👽 Martin says:

    @opie jeanne: We dumped my grandmothers ashes in the ocean. India was her favorite place on earth, and she got to find her way back there in the end. Not all of the family was thrilled with that idea, but fuck em. She told me she wanted to go back to India and I wasn’t about to go back on my word.

    I didn’t realize embalming wasn’t required here in Cali. Glad to see we’re organic to the end. I told my wife I wanted to go to the body farm or be parted out or turned over to the anatomy students. I don’t give a shit. Nobody ever wanted anything out of me but work anyway, so why let death stop that.

  61. 61

    @👽 Martin: We spread my dad’s ashes in Strangford Lough in Ireland. He never expressed an opinion, other than being cremated, but my mom wanted the ashes spread in Ireland, which was fine by me.

  62. 62
    raven says:

    @opie jeanne: My friend died up in Charlotte last spring. He had his wife and daughter’s wrap him in a blanket, put him in the car and drive him to their place in the country in Georgia. They dug a three foot hole, covered it with dirt and big rocks and had a service there. Everyone thought it was all illegal but it wasn’t. I have learned that the embalming thing came from the civil war where they had to move so many dead over distances without refrigeration.

  63. 63
  64. 64
    Todd says:

    @opie jeanne:

    Saxby Chambliss

    Speaking of Saxby, he was apparently perturbed over Brennan’s role in water boarding back in the early naughts. So perturbed that he voted “nay” on confirmation.

    This is the same Saxby Chambliss who was previously completely on board with water boarding as an enhanced interrogation technique.

    Obama needs to really advise conservatives that they shouldn’t lick the 220 outlets that their stoves, washers and dryers are plugged into.

  65. 65
    Opie_jeanne says:

    @👽 Martin: shipping a body can be expensive because there are extra fees, mainly because some states are run by greedy crooks.

  66. 66
    Opie_jeanne says:

    @raven: That’s a good way, I think.

    My cousins spread their mother’s ashes near South Park, CO. They didn’t have a permit so I think where they did it was completely illegal: into the wind facing a privately owned field. They learned that it’s good to think about which way the wind is blowing when doing this. I was out of range.

  67. 67
    NotMax says:

    @opie jeanne

    Little known, but Costco also sells coffins. Online sales only.

    And no, one does not have to buy a 6-pack.

  68. 68
    WereBear says:

    @Xenos: Might look into CoQ10.

  69. 69
    WereBear says:

    And coconut oil (start small and work up) turns out to have some anti-inflammatory properties and help with cognitive functions. This doctor helps her early onset Alzheimer’s husband with it.


  70. 70
    mothra1 says:

    Best comment thread ever

  71. 71
    Rosie Outlook says:

    Tim F: And after they break out, they meet a chipmunk with a funny accent and Richard Adams writes a book about them.

  72. 72
    SRW1 says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Does the cat by any chance have French ancestry?

  73. 73
    aimai says:


    Ditto. I love those books (never could bring myself to see the movies). I read them to my children. The first invovles the rescue of a poet/prisoner from the Black Castle Prison. One of the later ones involves the rescue of a child kidnapped, along with many prisoners from many lands, and used as slave labor in the salt mines. There’s a real love of prisoners and the poor in those books as well as tons of wit and joie de vivre.

  74. 74
    gene108 says:

    When are they going to start splicing animal brain cells into our brains, so we can have better hearing, better sense of smell, etc.?

    It’s no fair only animals benefit from brain splicing.

  75. 75
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Unfortunately, the dumb rats went and got themselves elected to Congress and forced austerity on the nation, causing the research into smarter rats to be canceled.

  76. 76

    I hope somebody has let Christine O’Donnell know abouot this horrifying develpoment. Mice with “fully functioning human brains” can’t be far off.

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:


    I still like the original version of “The Rescuers,” mostly for Eva Gabor and Bob Newhart’s performances, but sadly there is not much love for either film at the GEC.

    @General Stuck:

    Well, we do have an expressed aim of warping children’s minds from the moment of their birth and have spread our doctrine all over the globe, so we’re pretty evil. But we probably are slightly less evil than, say, Halliburton.

  78. 78
    Alien Radio says:

    @Mnemosyne: That’s still a tallest dwarf competition.

  79. 79
    opie jeanne says:

    @NotMax: I priced them when we buried Dad and their coffins are priced a bit high for what they are. We found nicer ones a lot cheaper at a nearby boutique. You can get all sorts of coffins but they are just a box that is going into the ground or into the cremation chamber. For cremation you can rent a coffin for the funeral, but it costs just about the same as buying one.

  80. 80
    opie jeanne says:

    @Alien Radio: My youngest worked for The Mouse for several years, and now she works for Feld Entertainment (Disney on Ice, Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey, Disney’s touring shows). There really are worse companies to work for than Disney.

  81. 81
    David in NY says:

    Once tried to encourage Jane Conly, author of the second and third of the “Rats of NIMH” trilogy (her dad wrote the first) to continue the story after the disappearance of the rats, just as they were about to be discovered. But she said she didn’t know where they went.

    They are, anyway, wonderful books.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @opie jeanne:

    It really depends where you land within the company — some divisions/departments are great, while others turn into Kafkaesque nighmares like this one.

    The department in that story had some openings a few months ago and although the position would have been a step up in both responsibility and salary for several people in my department, no one even sent a resume because they already knew what a nightmare they were to deal with.

  83. 83
    Mart says:

    It was them ancient astronauts that planted the seed. Seen it on TV – History Channel – so you know it is scientifical facts.

  84. 84
    dance around in your bones says:

    Prolly this thread is dead, but I read it with great interest last night.

    When my husband died, I opted for cremation (which is what he wished,too…except for the ‘just push me over the cliff if I croak’ thingamajoo).

    This happened in Mexico, and I have no idea if they put him in a coffin before they burned him up. I got his ashes in a plastic bag in a cardboard box. 75% of him is sprinkled in the ocean in Baja. And the other 25% is in zip-loc bags stuffed into socks that I hand-knitted for him many years ago (and smuggled across the border). I have no idea what I am going to do with the 25%. I doubt that he would give a flying fuck.

  85. 85
    Opie_jeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: yeah, any big company can have a department like that.

    She was a “head character” and two face characters. I’m very closely related to Alice and Wendy. Then she was a dancer in Snow White until the show closed. She came back when it reopened for three months the following year but the pay wasn’t bad but not as good as it was originally. She was a dancer and character on the Disney Wonder, which is not run by Disney, and for the past 3 years she has toured as a performer with a traveling Disney show. She’s 30 and she just started as a stage electrician with the same show. The pay is a bit better, especially while they’re in the US because she gets overtime.

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