Behavioral Research Blog

Bigger is not always better: hypothesis testing in sexual evolution

Posted by Olga Krips on Aug 20, 2015 10:17:00 AM

Sexual selection can lead to fascinating phenomena. We are all familiar with the fabulous color display of male peacocks to attract females. Less well known, but definitely not less interesting, are stalk-eyed flies. Due to the fact that the females strongly prefer males with wideset eyes, the males have developed eyes on stalks that can be larger than their bodies. And did you know that the Irish elk developed antlers through sexual selection that span over two-and-a-half meters? Some people believe that the males with antlers this large could hardly move through the forest, which may have led to the species’ extinction. It’s no wonder that sexual preference is so well-studied with so many hypotheses formulated in relation to it.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, insect behavior, Tracking insects, sex-specific behavior, mites

How to let rats run perfectly

Posted by G. Smit on Aug 14, 2015 12:00:00 PM

In a recent blog post, we talked about letting animals walk freely in gait research. 

At Noldus, we strongly believe that this is the way to go in gait research, so our CatWalk XT system makes use of free gait. This is consistent with the constant feedback from, and collaborations with, scientists who actually perform gait, locomotor, or pain research.

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Topics: rats, CatWalk XT, gait analysis, locomotion

Mice in the spotlight: why you should perform your tests in a home cage

Posted by G. Smit on Aug 6, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Mouse models have proven to be essential in discovering the neurological underpinnings of diseases and to the development of a deeper understanding of genotype-phenotype relations. Behavioral phenotyping of these mice is very important, evidenced by the variety of tests that have been described in literature. Unfortunately, many of these tests are susceptible to bias, for example, testing in a novel environment. Bias can also result from handling animals prior to the tests, which can induce artificial behaviors that confound results.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, learning and memory, anxiety research, home cage, PhenoTyper

Information gap makes children guess

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Aug 3, 2015 10:00:00 AM

When children lack information, they make up stories by adding up their own guesses. Their imagination can run wild: all elephants are pink, right? This kind of reasoning is undesirable when trying to explain a rare disorder of a sister or brother. Guesswork may result in incorrect illness explanations and might cause related miscommunication or behavioral problems. When we learn more about how siblings describe illnesses, we might be able to appropriately assist family counselors and parents.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, parent-child interaction, developmental psychology, conversation analysis

How you can efficiently screen for plant resistance to aphids

Posted by Olga Krips on Jul 30, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Aphids are small insects that pierce plant leaves and suck out their contents. They can cause considerable crop damage. Although they inflict limited physical destruction to the plant, aphids commonly infect plants with viruses, which can destroy complete harvests [1].

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, crop protection

Revealing the secret social role of the CA2 hippocampus

Posted by Abbe H. Macbeth, PhD on Jul 23, 2015 12:43:15 PM

Aggressive behavior is typically adaptive for most species in the animal kingdom. Examples of this can be seen in maternal aggression to protect one’s young, and defense of a home territory; both of these contribute to the survival of an individual, and the species as a whole. But how is aggressive behavior mediated in the brain? Recent work indicates that the hippocampus in general, and the CA2 region in particular, is a crucial neural component in mediating social recognition and aggression. What CA2-specific mechanisms allow for such regulation?

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Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, The Observer XT, social behavior research, open field test, anxiety research, aggression, resident-intruder test, zero maze

Why use Video Feedback in Education

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jul 20, 2015 9:50:00 AM

By using video and audio recordings in education, students and educators can receive, and benefit from, direct feedback.

Students

Students are raised with TV and internet and are accustomed to interacting with images and videos. They are used to receiving information by watching short movie clips. On a daily basis, students find themselves browsing YouTube for information (and for fun, of course). In training and simulation situations including, for example, a simulated nurse-patient interaction, students can learn a lot. Recent research [1] tells us that it is important to first deal with emotions in a medical encounter before trying to convey an important message, such as a treatment plan.

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Topics: video observation, simulation, Viso, audio recording, video feedback, video recording

Behavioral effects of optogenetically induced myelination in mice

Posted by G. Smit on Jul 16, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Myelination, the ‘ensheathment’ of neurons, is essential to the functioning of the central and peripheral nervous systems. So it is not surprising that problems with myelination can lead to a number of crippling diseases. Known examples include multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases.

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Topics: mice, CatWalk XT, gait analysis, locomotion

How to measure a zebrafish larva’s highly stereotyped response to water motion?

Posted by Linda Hoekstra on Jul 9, 2015 12:00:00 PM

At the Max Planck Institute in Germany, Groneberg and colleagues researched one of the neural bases for behavior in Danio rerio. They showed that larval zebrafish execute approach reactions followed by a form of positive taxis and gradual motion damping in response to water flows. That might sound complicated, but what it basically means is that zebrafish larvae are able to detect minute movement in the water and respond in a stereotypical way.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, zebrafish, Danio rerio, stereotypies

Movement analysis in volleyball

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jul 7, 2015 4:33:00 PM

When analyzing movement in sports, there is more that matters than the way players handle their rackets or hockey sticks. Observation of the way players move and their response time, overall fitness, body strength, and, of course, the overall team performance all help create a more complete picture. Sports scientists look into effective interplay of team members and actions including on-the-ball behaviors. In team sports, complex tactics and routines can be revealed by detailed behavior analysis.

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Topics: The Observer XT, sport

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