Dave writes:

Gooday and thank you for your very twinformational podcast,

A comment was made that if an olfactory neuron was destroyed, it wouldn’t regenerate.  Although this is often true, olfactory neurons can and do regenerate, even following transection.  This paper reports on mice, but it has also been established in humans.


I have always thought that since chemoreception has been evolving longest of the senses, suggesting a simpler structure with more time for incremental upgrades, that repair after injury has developed more than other senses.

Dr. Dave Jackson

Dave writes:

Good day twintrepid researchers,

One of your listeners asked, in effect, “If mice lie, why use ’em?”

I am reminded of a time when I approached my P.I. with a modification that would collect the same amount of data in one day that we were currently gathering in one week.

He explained that the procedure we were using was well-established in the literature.  My suggestion might very well be an improvement, but it wouldn’t acceptable for publication unless we demonstrated that it did not introduce “unintended consequences” such as altering the protein conformation that we were studying.

Since our lab ran this procedure once, or maybe twice a year, it wouldn’t make sense to spend the months required to demonstrate that the new procedure gave the same results as the old procedure, only faster.

Mice have been in the literature so long, much has been done with mice, pure genetic strains, knock-out strains, etc. that there would have to be a compelling reason to use other animals.

In fact, these reasons come up often enough that other animals are also common residents of research labs, dogs, pigs, ferrets, non-human primates, all are widely studied.

But mice are small.  They are easy to handle, don’t require much food, breed prodigiously, are not too prone to infanticide, are trainable but also have innate behaviors that can used to measure perception.

If we were going to stock our Mars colony with an animal for genetic research, we might very well still choose mice because they score highly on so many different criteria.

Dr. Dave Jackson