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Researchers discover the first-ever link between intelligence and curiosity

  1. RoboCodeine7610
    Scientists from University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital have discovered a molecular link between intelligence and curiosity, which may lead to the development of drugs to improve learning.

    In a paper published Sept. 10 in the highly-respected journal Neuron, Professor John Roder of U of T's Department of Molecular Genetics, a senior investigator at the Lunenfeld, and Bechara Saab, PhD candidate at the Lunenfeld, studied the interaction of two proteins in a small region of the brain called the dentate gyrus (one of three parts of the hippocampus, which plays an important role in long-term memory and spatial navigation).

    "Dr. Roder and Bechara Saab have made a discovery in a region of the brain that has been under-explored in the past," said Dr. Jim Woodgett, director of the Lunenfeld. "This molecular link holds promise for future cognitive therapies."

    For the study, the neuronal calcium sensor-1 (NCS-1), a protein which is known to affect the memory of worms and is linked to bipolar and schizophrenia in people, was increased by one-and-a-half fold specifically in the dentate gyrus of mouse models. This modest overexpression increased the ability of brain cells to change how they communicate with each other and gave the mice superior memory in complex tasks and a significant increase in exploratory behaviour (curiosity).

    Because the exploratory behaviour was only altered in safe environments, Roder and Saab believe they have discovered a region of the brain that generates curiosity and a model for how brain activity leads to curiosity.

    The researchers also discovered that both curiosity and spatial memory were impaired when a benign drug (developed at Mount Sinai) blocked the NCS-1 protein from binding to the dopamine type-2 receptors (a major target of anti-psychotics) in the dentate gyrus.

    "Now that we know that some of the molecules and brain regions that control learning and memory also control curiosity, we can go back to the lab and design drugs that may improve cognition in humans - that's the potential benefit for the future," explained Saab. "Immediately, however, we can put into use the knowledge that fostering curiosity should also foster intelligence and vice versa."

    By Melissa McDermott
    Sep 14, 2009


  1. RoboCodeine7610
    Finally, a clue as to what causes the link between schizophrenia and high intelligence. It's from 2009, but I found it very insightful.

  2. trdofbeingtrd
    Robo, I always love reading when you post, I can tell you are very intelligent. But you have really outdone yourself with this thread. I am really fucking glad you posted this and that you are a member of DF.
  3. rawbeer
    What would be incredible would be the development of a drug that could treat bipolar/schizophrenia that didn't impair the intelligence or curiosity of patients. I've never taken an antipsychotic or antidepressant (I'm sure many people would say I should!) because I've heard countless people lament the negative side effects such as feeling stupid and/or uncreative.

    And it sounds like antipsychotics are targeting the part of the brain that generates curiosity, so the anecdotal evidence may be spot on.

    How wonderful it would be to removed the "tortured" from "tortured genius." Great find Robo!
  4. RoboCodeine7610
    Thank you trdofbeingtrd, I'm really glad you enjoy my posts. I'm also glad to be a member, and in a decade of searching I still have not found a forum as accurate, organized and open-minded as drugs-forum. Hopefully I'll be here for many years to come.

    Honestly, I doubt i'd be that simple. After all, schizophrenia is not just one process, but a cascade of events that lead to a pathologic brain structure. Also, it seems, this mechanism mediates only the positive symptoms of schizophrenia (Hallucinations, delusions...) and not the negative symptoms ( Blunted affect, cognitive impairment, social maladjustment...).

    Paradoxically, the main negative symptom of schizophrenia is cognitive impairment. Therefore, this seems like only one aspect of the disease, if it's even one single disease with a common pathophysiology (this is still disputed).

    Still, it's a small peek into why some people with schizophrenia seem to be gifted by genius in their early years, only to descend into chaos later in life. A good example of this was John Nash, the mathematician on whom the movie "a beautiful mind" is based on. As an interesting side note, he died about a month ago in a car accident.

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