Behavioral Research Blog

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

Making Sense of the Senses: The Real Cost of Paying Attention

Posted by Jason Rogers on Nov 11, 2014 11:00:00 AM

By Jason Rogers, Ph.D.

We live in a demanding world: the snort of an email, the squeal of a text, fare alerts, breaking news, SQUIRREL! What was I saying? Oh yes, we live in a distracted world. With DVRs holding thousands of hours of entertainment; phones and tablets keeping us occupied while we watch those thousands of DVRed hours, it seems that something always has our attention. But what does that really mean? The term itself is used a bit like a commodity: always demanding that we pay for it. The affectionally dubbed “Brain Bank” allows a controlled bit of withdrawal at any given moment. We are literally trapped in a world bombarded by sensory information. As you read this, you are neglecting your world in order to process these words. What do you hear right now? What sweater are you wearing? Now are you thinking about what you are going to wear tomorrow? Or what’s on your calendar? SQUIRREL! Please allow me to withdrawal a bit of currency from your Brain Bank to discuss the real cost of paying attention.

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Topics: autism research, consumer behavior, Neuromarketing, consumer behavior research, neuropsychology

Health care education and research

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 7, 2014 11:00:00 AM

The use of video feedback is well established and encouraged in the world of health care education and research. Clinical encounters, behavioral protocols, and doctor-patient interactions can be evaluated. Video recording also enables the assessment of communication in great detail.

Evelien Spelten and colleagues set forth to gain insight into the midwife-client interaction in relation to the quality of care provided by midwives. Focusing on the first antenatal consultation, their study describes the introduction of video recording in midwifery practices for research purposes, the coding process, and the resulting dataset.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, medical encounter

5 Days of Neuroscience 2014

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 4, 2014 11:31:00 AM

The 2014 Neuroscience conference is fast approaching, and will be held on November 15-19 in Washington, DC! This year promises another inspiring program. We’ve highlighted some activities for you to get into the Neuroscience mood!

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Topics: Video tracking, gait analysis

Anxiety is ancient – how crayfish resemble vertebrates

Posted by Olga Krips on Oct 28, 2014 2:54:51 PM

Fear and anxiety

Fear is something we all know. It changes our behavior: we freeze, try to escape, or respond with aggression. Fear can also cause anxiety, which is a more complex phenomenon. While fear disappears when the source is absent, anxiety stays when there is no threat anymore. Rodents, for example, avoid the open arms of an Elevated Plus Maze when they previously were subjected to stress [1,2].

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Inhibitory avoidance learning in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Posted by Guest blogger on Oct 24, 2014 3:04:23 PM

By Remy Manuel, Marnix Gorissen and Ruud van den Bos
(email:, &

The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is increasingly being used as model in behavioural, neurobiological and genetic research. Underlying reasons are high genetic homology to humans and the many advantages over the use of rodents, such as low cost, easy handling, short reproduction cycle and high fecundity. Furthermore, its genome, transcriptome and proteome are well described, making the species a model of choice for behavioural research linked to genetics.

An emerging field addresses learning and memory related to anxiety and fear behaviour, which has been studied through inhibitory avoidance paradigms [1,2]. Assessment of inhibitory avoidance learning in zebrafish is based on the conflict between entering a dark area to avoid a brightly lit area (innate response; innate anxiety) and avoiding this dark area, as it has been associated with an electric shock as negative stimulus (conditioned fear avoidance). Higher latencies of entering the dark area following training are indicative of increased inhibitory avoidance learning.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, zebrafish, learning and memory, avoidance learning

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