Scientists give mice enhanced color vision

March 26, 2007 at 8:58 AM
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BALTIMORE, March 26 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have given mice the ability to see in enhanced color, showing the brain can adapt more rapidly to new sensory information than expected.

The researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the University of California-Santa Barbara said their finding also suggests that when the first ancestral primate inherited a new type of photoreceptor more than 40 million years ago, it probably experienced immediate color enhancement, which may have allowed the trait to spread quickly.

"If you gave mice a new sensory input at the front end, could their brains learn to make use of the extra data at the back end?" asked Dr. Jeremy Nathans, a Johns Hopkins professor of molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience, and ophthalmology. "The answer is, remarkably, yes. They did not require additional generations to evolve new sight."

The research by Nathans and Hugh Cahill of Johns Hopkins and Gerald Jacobs and Gary Williams of the University of California-Santa Barbara, appears in the journal Science.

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