Taylor's fuzzy brained mice, the chart at the bottom didn't copy well but you can see the link above for the whole story.
by Lauri Pratt
After reading a magazine article about an experiment done by another sixth grader, Taylor wanted to do his own yellow dye #5 challenge on some mice. We were a little hesitant to agree to the experiment he titled "Fuzzy Brained Mice," because we were not sure how it would turn out. Nevertheless, we headed out to the pet store and purchased four mice.
Fortunately, we already had two cages, water bottles, and wheels for hamsters that we had previously owned. After researching maze design on line, my husband decided to design one with Taylor, using graph paper. They built the maze with a plywood base. After drawing the plans onto the wood, they hot-glued the fiberboard walls into place. All the wood was cut by a very generous man at Home Depot. Once it was completed, Taylor chose to paint it his favorite color, orange. Together, father and son sprayed it a cool fluorescent orange and green, finishing the construction in one afternoon.
Taylor separated his mice into two groups of two, and initially fed and watered them equally while he trained them to run the maze. After about three weeks of training, all four mice were running the maze with similar times of about twenty seconds. Then, he gave one set of mice 1/4 tsp of liquid Yellow Dye #5 in their 6 oz bottle of water.
We waited anxiously the next morning to see what the results would be. Would there be a change in one day? After all, the amount of coloring in the water was barely visible. How could it do anything?
The results were dramatic. The two mice who received the dye in their water had increased their maze time from about 20 seconds to over 100 seconds! Their performance continued to deteriorate over the next three days until they reached a maze time of more than 200 seconds (see the chart below). Even though they had previously known the maze route as well as the Pure Water Mice, they were confused and took dead-ends continuously. Additionally, one Yellow Dye Mouse became aggressive and attacked its cage mate.
- The colored water was so pale that Taylor did not think it could possibly make any difference, and he was surprised at the dramatic deterioration in performance ability he documented.
- They do, when they use a maze.
- In 1982, Shaywitz reported on a study of rat pups which were given food dyes at .5 mg/kg (only a tenth of the amount that Taylor used). Nevertheless, after eating the dye, the rats took more than twice as long to escape from a maze that they had already learned.
- Most of the scientfic studies of the effects of coloring, however, measure weight change, swimming ability, wheel running, etc. Most of them do not use a maze or other learned behavior patterns to test the animal's ability to think and remember.