R222 was the name given to a rat who was affected by an abnormal condition called, hydrocephalus. It is a condition where the space around the brain is filled with a fluid, which causes the brain to shrink in size. What should come as a result is a dysfunctional brain, with which a being cannot possibly survive.
However, to the researcher’s surprise, the rat lived its life quite normally as would the other rats with normal functioning brains. Craig Ferris, a professor at Northeastern University, was the one who was studying the rat in his laboratory. He found that the rat had no difficulty in using its sensory organs to its full extent. It could smell, feel, hear, and taste just like the other rats, but was doing it without its brain.
On further research that the professor conducted in his lab at Northeastern University, he found that all the functions that a brain had to carry out, was spread out. The visual activity was taken control by almost the whole brain. The same was found for smell and touch. The pancake-like flattened brain of R222 was functioning well in spite of being pushed out of the way.
To find out more, R222 and another experimental rat were placed in two different Plexiglas box. They saw that the experimental rat, which has a full fit and normally functioning brain, navigated through the maze and learned its way around. R222, on the other hand, stayed put. This experiment showed that R222 had a heightened sense of anxiety, which happened to be the only difference between R222 and the experimental rat. The cortex, which was the center of attraction for most research work, is a very complex structure. Years and years of studying this part of the brain still did not simplify the mystery, and now with this rat experiment, it’s seen that even if a large part of it is removed, it does not really have any effect.
Teena Rose Tom