Behavioral Research Blog

Zinc deficiency, depression and electrical signals in the brain

Posted by Olga Krips on Dec 18, 2014 3:25:00 PM

Major depressive disorder

The chance that one of us will suffer from a major depressive episode during our life is approximately 10% [1]. Depression has a dramatic effect on quality of life because it results in a persistent low mood that is accompanied by a low self-esteem and a loss of interest in things that give pleasure [2]. Reason enough to carry out research on the background of major depression.

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Fearful chicken: Fear affects stress, behavior patterns, and other individuals

Posted by Guest blogger on Dec 16, 2014 12:00:00 PM

A guest blog post by Elske de Haas, Ph.D. 

Fear and stress

Being fearful is a state which most humans have experienced at some point in their life. By being easily frightened and anxious, many species show to be very sensitive to stress. Many studies have shown that anxiety can be influenced by the neurophysiological characteristics of an individual. It appears that heightened levels corticosterone as well as low levels of serotonin constitute to many neuro-pathological disorders, such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

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Understanding the impact of health information technology on doctor-patient interaction

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Dec 12, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Embracing the technological advances of the last decade, many health care professionals have incorporated information technology into their daily routines. Doctors can carry patient files around on their tablets or laptops and can quickly update a status when needed. Convenience has without a doubt increased, but does such easy access to technology impact the quality of doctor-patient interactions?

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Topics: The Observer XT, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter, coding schemes

Ladybirds and lacewings do not spy on their prey’s alarm pheromone

Posted by Olga Krips on Dec 8, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Aphids and their natural enemies

Leaf sucking creatures like plant aphids are common and can cause considerable damage to plants. Therefore, quite a lot of effort is made to control these tiny creatures. And because of environmental awareness, sustainable methods to control aphids are well developed. Aphids can be controlled successfully with ladybirds (Coccinella septempunctata) and also with lacewings (Chrysoperla carnea). Both species are natural enemies of aphids.

Image Ladybird - By Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium (Coccinella magnifica) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Topics: The Observer XT, coding schemes, insect behavior, insect

Get the latest information and insight on Alzheimer's research

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Dec 2, 2014 3:00:00 PM

The Behavioral Research Blog regularly highlights recent advances in Alzheimer’s research. Check out four recent blog posts and get the latest information and insight.

Can caffeine prevent Alzheimer’s?

What is the most popular drug in the world? It’s not alcohol, cannabis, or cocaine, but something most of us start with each day. Coffee;  or, more specifically: caffeine. Like millions of other people, it helps me get started and prevents my morning headaches. Caffeine also has been shown to prevent age-related cognitive decline by reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and dementia. It is not surprising, then, that much research has already been done on the effect of caffeine in the development of AD. Read more!

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Topics: Alzheimer's disease

How to really challenge mice cerebellar plasticity

Posted by Guest blogger on Nov 27, 2014 11:50:16 AM

Guest post by Jan-Willem Potters

Successful locomotion and the maintenance of balance is the result of an intricate collaboration of the sensory system, sensorimotor integration and the motor system. Needless to say, there are many parts of the brain that work together to carry out this type of behavior. Locomotion is affected in many different neurological diseases, and is an interesting candidate to study symptoms in detail and the effect of possible therapies of these diseases.

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Topics: mice, ErasmusLadder, cerebellum

Behavioral video analysis supports Rett syndrome research

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 25, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe progressive neurodevelopmental disorder. It affects girls almost exclusively and is characterized by normal early growth and development followed by a slowing of development, loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, problems with walking, seizures, and intellectual disability (Rett Syndrome Fact Sheet, 2014). In the study discussed in this blog post, the researchers indicated that normal cooing and babbling were absent in the first two years of life. They also observed finger movements and found that they occurred sporadically with limited variability. Let us zoom in on this original article published in the Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, parent-child interaction

Picky cats and tasty food – sniffing is an indicator for tastiness

Posted by Olga Krips on Nov 20, 2014 9:30:00 AM

Picky cats

Any cat owner will acknowledge the fact that cats can be extremely stubborn. They let you hear loud and clear that they want to come in, but when you open the door, they just sit at the doorstep and stare at you. And they can be extremely picky when it comes to food. If the cat doesn’t like it, it will refuse to eat. Reason enough for the pet food industry to try to find out what cats really like.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, coding schemes, cats

Gesture analysis - the importance of gestures in foreign language learning

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 18, 2014 11:00:00 AM

What are you waving your arms for? My Italian friend makes all kinds of gestures when she’s trying to get her point across, and doing this seems almost natural for her. She wants me to understand her and since English is her second language, as it is mine, she uses her hands to explain herself more powerfully.

It is widely accepted that verbal and non-verbal behaviors are closely linked. But how about my journey toward becoming a near-native speaker of English? How important are gestures in articulating the meaning of a presentation?

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A high-throughput method to screen natural behavior of mice

Posted by Olga Krips on Nov 13, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Standard behavioral tests

Traditional standard tests with rats or mice to study human diseases or to test drugs generally take minutes to a few hours. A combination of these tests can give valuable information about the behavior of the rodents. However, these tests are carried out immediately after human interference. Therefore, the behavior of the animals may not be natural and spontaneous. To study spontaneous behavior, long-term studies in the rodents’ home cage are more suitable [1].

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Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, home cage, PhenoTyper

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