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CMU Study Suggests Possible Way To Extend Functionality in Patients with Huntington’s

A study of mice that hear imaginary sounds could help explain human disorders like schizophrenia, which produce hallucinations.

A recent study has shown that mice with Huntington’s disease live longer and function better when living with healthy mice.

Dr. Gary Dunbar is the Director of the Brain Research and Integrative Neuroscience Center at Central Michigan University. He says the mice with Huntington’s disease function properly and complete more tasks when they’re in competition with the healthy mice.

“A normal animal will not have any problem getting the food,” he says, “The Huntington’s animal would have more of a problem but now that they are in some ways competing with a normal animal to get the food, I think they work harder and it helps them.”

The mice with Huntington’s suffer without the aid of the healthy mice.

“They are basically setting the example,” Dunbar says, “‘this is what you are going to need to do to function properly: you need to make your nest, you need to compete for the food.’ And by doing so I think that helped them live longer.”

Dunbar believes the implications of the study may be that tasks and competitive social systems can help in extending the lives of those with Huntington’s disease and help them function physically and cognitively for as long as they can.

According to John Hopkins University, more than 15,000 Americans have Huntington’s disease. It causes deterioration in a person’s physical, mental, and emotional abilities,and currently has no cure.