We blogged about Clyven, the chimerical transgenic mouse with human intelligence, before; but now researchers have 'kicked it up a notch', by creating mice with the human version of a gene involved in language, called FOXP2. As the article in Discover magazine notes, "hile the mice didn’t exactly sit up and start reciting poetry about cheese, they did show some intriguing differences in both their vocal patterns and brain structure."
The region of the brain that was affected was the basal ganglia; the humanized mice grew nerve cells that had a more complex structure. Baby mice utter ultrasonic whistles when removed from their mothers; the researchers' findings that the baby hu-mice, when isolated, made whistles that had a slightly lower pitch, among other differences. Here the video with research Wolfgang Enard that provides a summary of the paper published in Cell:
So what does it mean when we 'uplift' animals? Colleague and friend George Dvorsky has some interesting thoughts on this here.