In a new study, scientists at Rutgers, revealed that whn mice were trained to enhance their working memory,they turned out to be more intelligent.
According to the researchers, their study suggests that similar improvements in working memory can help human beings enhance their brainpower.
"Working memory refers to a short-term memory system used to complete a task, such as remembering a phone number, a grocery list, reading comprehension, or something else not intended to be stored in long-term memory," said co-author Louis Matzel, professor of psychology in Rutgers' School of Arts and Sciences.
Working with about 60 young adult, genetically heterogeneous mice, Matzel and his colleagues used mazes to put the mice through a series of exercises designed to challenge and improve their ability to retain and use current spatial information.
For example, they would allow a mouse to run through a particular maze (for a food reward) until he had the route down cold, and then teach him to run through a second maze.
The researchers would then start the mouse on his way through the first maze, stop him en route and stick him in the second maze.
This procedure is known to tax working memory, and was here found to promote an improvement in that skill.
"There is a lot of evidence from the literature on human intelligence that working memory and intelligence are correlated. But that doesn't mean that one causes the other. So our question was, does improving an animal's capacity for working memory make him smarter? And the answer, from our experiment, was yes," Matzel said.
In fact, mice that underwent this working memory 'exercise' exhibited improved proficiency on a wide range of cognitive tests.
The research has been published in Current Biology. (ANI)