Re: Memory vs. Intelligence [was Re: Doogie Mice]

John Clark (
Sat, 4 Sep 1999 12:40:49 -0400

I wrote:

>In one test a tone was sounded a few seconds before an electrical
> shock was given, the Doogie mice learned faster than the wild mice
> that the tone meant danger. That's intelligence.

Robert J. Bradbury <> Wrote:

>I guess we differ on our definition of intelligence

I have no definition of intelligence, only examples of it.

     >I would say that remembering a correlation between two
     >events *is* memory, not intelligence. It is the *memory* that
     > two events occur in close time proximity.

Are you saying that the only reason the wild mice did poorly is that they've forgotten that they received a painful stimulus seconds after they received it? It's pretty clear that whatever they are, short term memory has a different mechanism than long term memory, Tang made no claim that Doogie mice were better at it nor is there any reason to thing that the observed increase in LTP has anything to do with short term memory.

>> Me:
>> Even more impressive the Doogie mice learned much better when their
>>old ideas no longer worked; after a while the tone still sounded but the
>>shock no longer came, the wild mice were much slower in figuring out
>>that the tone no longer meant danger.

>Again, a new "memory" (discorrelation), on top of an old memory.

Doogie doesn't remember everything indiscriminately, it knows when forgetting an old idea is useful. I'll grant you that a mouse can not write a sonnet but you must grant me that a mouse has an intelligence greater than zero, if you don't like the ones used in the paper what test would you recommend to measure it?

>If these individuals were to get a prize, and the person who thought
>up LTP as a memory mechanism didn't, then I would argue that it would
>be fairly unjust.

Theories are a dime a dozen, the idea that Long Term Potentiation and long term memory are synonymous has been kicking around for decades but until recently the evidence in its favor has been almost zero.

>The major part I objected to was the suggested *extension* of the
>findings of *memory* improvement to *intelligence* improvement
>in humans.

I can find no mention of humans in the paper, the closest was the very last sentence:

"This study reveals a promising strategy for the creation of other genetically modified mammals with enhanced intelligence and memory."

I predict that the first application of this technology (other than research) will be in pets, it shouldn't be much harder to do this to a dog and a unusually intelligent breed of dogs might have considerable commercial application. If the breed is cute and cuddly it might improve the image of genetic engineering too.

John K Clark