"In order to study the way that experience can influence the brain, there has been a great deal of research done on the visual cortex of the kitten."
Oh, this is going to end badly, isn't it?
This short documentary from the 1970s explains, in depth, some research that I mentioned earlier this year in a BoingBoing article on fetal senses. Long story short: Kittens are born blind and do a lot of their sight-linked brain development in the first few weeks after birth. Because of this, they make a handy model for studying how the brains of human fetuses form neural connections and how our sense of sight develops in the womb. It's important research that has helped medical science better understand how to care for premature human babies, besides adding valuable details to our understanding of the brain, in general.
Unfortunately, because kittens are adorable, said very important research looks almost comically evil when filmed. Seriously, this video is one "Thittens" joke away from working as a segment of Look Around You.
So, thanks, blorgggg (Thorgggg?), for sending this video in via Submitterator. I'm sure the Moderators will be thanking you (and me) as well. I do ask that, as we get into the inevitable discussion on animal research, you remember that the scientists involved did not raise kittens in completely dark rooms for sociopathic shits and giggles, but because they thought the potential benefits of the research outweighed the (mostly temporary) damage done to the kittens' visual abilities. You may disagree with that calculation—and you're welcome to do so. In fact, I think that complex discussion about ends and means in specific studies is valuable. And interesting. Far more so (on both counts) than simply labeling anyone who uses animals for research as a for-kicks abuser of fluffy baby kitties.