Behavioral Research Blog

How autistic fruit flies behave

Posted by G. Smit on Feb 26, 2015 12:00:00 PM

The number of children with developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased exponentially in the past 20 years: one out of six children in the US now suffers from a developmental disability. Of course some might say this sharp incline is due to better diagnostics and increased awareness; but whether or not this is the case, such a high prevalence is concerning. And since the environment is considered a strong contributor, chemicals such as BPA have been under investigation lately.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, autism research, drosophila, fruit fly

Location is everything: Measuring visitor behavior

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Feb 23, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Want to know where the action is? Interested in getting real-time feedback about a conference, concert, or event hotspots? At the Measuring Behavior conference in August 2014, a number of meeting participants took part in an exciting experiment in which they received real-time updates on their own smartphones about the “hotness” of several conference events. Did this information lead them to the most interesting lectures, booths, or poster sessions?

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Topics: emotion recognition, FaceReader, TrackLab, consumer behavior, emotions

How to measure the social behavior of Fragile X mice

Posted by G. Smit on Feb 20, 2015 2:00:00 PM

Fragile X syndrome (FXS), formerly known as mental retardation, is a common developmental disorder with a prevalence of 1 in 3600 to 4000 males and 1 in 4000 to 6000 females (www.fragilex.org). Besides the intellectual challenges, patients often show behavioral abnormalities, which in a large part of the male patients strongly resembles autism-like behavior. Unfortunately, treatment of FXS is limited to the symptoms – think of behavioral therapy or pharmaceuticals to treat attentional deficits, anxiety, and impulse control problems.

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Topics: mice, social hierarchy, automated tube test, Fragile X syndrome

Side effects of L-DOPA investigated in parkinsonian rats

Posted by G. Smit on Feb 16, 2015 2:00:00 PM

Just recently, I blogged about a Parkinson’s disease (PD) study that compared the locomotion of Parkinsonian rats to those of human patients using automated gait analysis. Following up on that, this time I would like to highlight two recent Parkinson’s studies that use video tracking for their behavioral analysis. These studies specifically investigate the long-term effects of L-DOPA or levopoda, a common clinical treatment for PD, with which many patients struggle.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, Parkinson's Disease, open field test, PhenoTyper, behavior recognition

Measuring creativity at the GrunbergLab

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Feb 11, 2015 10:05:00 AM

Do you know what creativity is? Can you measure it? On February 19, 2014 Dr. Ysbrand van der Werf gave a lecture on creativity. For him, creativity is about the creator and the person experiencing the things created.

The creator   

In the autumn of 2013, a team of scientists measured the emotions, brain activity and subjective feelings of a writer (Arnon Grunberg) as he created a new book (‘Het bestand’: an ambiguous title that can refer to a computer file or a cease-fire).

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Topics: emotion recognition, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, physiology, EEG, emotions

Parkinson’s & gait impairment: comparing rats and humans

Posted by G. Smit on Feb 5, 2015 4:13:00 PM

When you hear about Parkinson’s disease (PD), the first thing that comes to mind is probably impaired movement. And that there is no cure. As PD is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, you can imagine why it is the focus of many drug development and clinical studies.

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Topics: Parkinson's Disease, rats, CatWalk XT, gait analysis, locomotion

3 interesting studies to get you in the mood for the Australia and New Zealand Zebrafish Meeting

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 26, 2015 11:00:00 AM

We like zebrafish and the promise they hold for neuroscience research. That’s one of the reasons why Noldus is a sponsor of the 16th Australia and New Zealand Zebrafish meeting that will take place next week at Queensland’s Gold Coast. It’s also a good reason to mention some of the most interesting zebrafish studies we have been highlighting on our blog lately.

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Topics: zebrafish

How males and females are different: can this explain autism?

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 22, 2015 1:00:00 PM

Women and Venus, men and Mars, right? Men and women are fundamentally, biologically, and emotionally different. We also act differently in social situations. Wouter van den Berg and his colleagues at the Erasmus University Medical Center (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) recently published an interesting study that, using mice, shows the establishment of social hierarchies as being sex-dependent.

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Topics: mice, social hierarchy, testosterone, gender differences, sex-specific behavior, automated tube test

Why non-verbal behavior matters

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jan 21, 2015 2:19:00 PM

Take a typical conversation: Hello, how are you? Fine! How are you? {pause} Fine! Shall we …….etcetera. The opening of this conversation is highly structured, isn’t it? The process of turn taking is a crucial and cooperative aspect of conversational speech. Gestures are also of great importance. When your feet are already turned to the door, you are getting ready to run out. Try to read your own signals and you will see!

Conversation closers

In a conversation we include hints like conversation openers, closers, and shifters. It’s a feeling we’re all familiar with: you’re trying desperately to end a conversation, and the other person keeps on talking and does not read the clues you are giving. You say: “Anyway… “ {…Person B keeps talking} “see you Thursday, all right?” and edge toward the door… {Person B talks over you.} “Thursday noon, was it, right?” {Person B still doesn’t get the hint to leave.}…and so on. In this frustrating exchange, Person B repeatedly ignores your conversation closers, both verbal (“right”, “all right”, “anyway”) and nonverbal.

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Topics: The Observer XT, doctor patient interaction, eye tracking

How young zebrafish cope with stress

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 15, 2015 4:04:39 PM

We are all a bit stressed from time to time. Maybe some of you a bit more than usual right now, it being the post-holiday, catch-up-with-everything season and all… But stress is a natural thing, and how we cope with it differs from person to person. In research, we use the term coping style. And now Christian Tudorache and his colleagues from Leiden University (The Netherlands) have found that these coping styles emerge early on in life, or at least they do in zebrafish. They recently published a paper in Stress.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, zebrafish, activity monitoring, stress research, coping styles

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