Can Vick's vapor rub harm rats?
Well, no. I will explain that later. For now, what we have here is an example of how the human mind, as an animal, can process information and produce useful mental responses in response to stimulation of the senses or the mind.
What's more, the rat's brain has a highly developed sense of smell that allows it to detect odours from a distance. This means that when a rat smells an odour, there's an expectation, like the smell, that it's going to return, that is to say, smell the odour.
But when it actually tastes the odour, there are no expectations and it's not expected that it will return. So, in one case, the rat is expecting to taste something and the brain sends a response. In another case, the rat expects and its brain sends a response.
We know of other animals like elephants, which are very smart and we can teach them. So a rat's ability for mental control is well developed. But it can't understand or discriminate the difference between an odour being an olfactory stimulus; an odour that the olfactory bulb is stimulated by; and an olfactory stimulus that it is not stimulated by.
So it doesn't know how to distinguish between the olfactory stimulus and an olfactory stimulus that it has not been stimulated by.
Does this show that the rat has some rudimentary idea of smell?
It does not, because in the rat brain, and in ours, the brain is wired not for perception, but for cognition.
You can't get a better definition of intelligence than this. This is the second kind of knowledge that we have in the mammal brain. That is, a lot of the learning we do requires the animal understanding of what is going on.
This is how rats learn. But it's far from clear how this should happen. There are lots of reasons not to be too optimistic when it comes to the ability of the rat to do the mental stuff of learning. The rodent brain is not wired with enough information for a person to do the thinking.
Consider the brain of a kitten. The kittens are completely blind when they are two weeks old. And their eyesight is completely lost by this time. For them, the world is black and the light bulb is not in the room.
The kitten is completely ignorant of what color there is in a room, or what the light bulb is in a room, and how a room works. He's totally reliant and under the control of something that is not his own and can't be learned on his own.
And at two weeks old, all of the kittens have been put into a cage with some of their mothers and they have learned to associate a light bulb with food and a noise with a mom trying to make them stop getting food.
This is a very basic and basic understanding of the world. It's not so well understood in the adult mouse brains we have and the rat brain, but that's a big assumption in its origin. All mammals can be taught to do the thinking.
And the brain of a rat also has lots of connections. The mouse brains have connections to someplace called the neocortex, or the outermost region of the brain, which is very important for the ability for the rat to perform some of what we normally call the thinking functions of learning: thinking, reasoning, and problem solving.
So, if you look at the mouse brain, in addition to the neocortex, there's lots of other areas. So for humans, there's lots of connections, and the connections in our brains give rise to the ability to do a lot of our learning.
It's pretty much the same in the rat brain. There's lots of connections, lots of connections. What we say there must be a big difference in how a mouse thinks and how a rat thinks. Because the rat has the neocortex, and the neocortex is an area that allows us to interact with the world.