May 2016, Dublin - Early morning and the hotel lobby is already buzzing. Researchers from all over the world, members of the organizing committee, student volunteers, sales staff - all are gathering for the same purpose: the first day of Measuring Behavior 2016. At ten minutes to 9, the chatter slowly stops when Cathal Gurrin takes center stage. "Fáilte roimh a baile átha Cliath, welcome to Dublin!"
Every two years, the international multi-disciplinary conference Measuring Behavior is organized and held in Europe. If you are a behavioral researcher, you really shouldn’t miss it. Why?
Here are 10 reasons why you should attend Measuring Behavior 2016!
About a week ago I was on a plane flying back from Chicago to Amsterdam. I was exhausted, but very pleased with my experiences at my first Neuroscience meeting. I started out taking baby steps on my first day, but soon I was running a marathon (well, sort of). By Tuesday I really started feeling ‘at home’ and finally it even felt a bit sad to break down the booth and put everything back into the big crates for next year’s show.
Did you discover something new today? This was the question Prof. Berry Spruijt used to get from his kids on a daily basis. As little ones, they might have expected their father to come home with the Nobel Prize every day.
While we normally focus on a specific study or type of research or research tools, today’s post is a little different. Prof. Dr. Berry M. Spruijt recently retired from his position at Utrecht University. I had the honor of attending the symposium that was organized to reflect on and celebrate his career.
Measuring Behavior is an international multidisciplinary conference which takes place every two years. This August it is in Wageningen, in the Netherlands. If you are a behavioral researcher, you really ought to attend. Why?
1. The diverse, multidisciplinary program. The scientific program contains contributions focusing on purely scientific aspects (issues of replicability, dynamic aspects of behavior) and applied research (animal welfare), human behavior (eye trackers in consumer research) and animal (rodent behavior), technical sessions (video tracking of social animals and recognition of human behaviors from video), sessions presenting the latest technology (3D simulators) and topics that are of relevance to everyone (eating behavior of people). The above list just scratches the surface of what promises to be a very diverse and interesting three days.
Topics: animal behavior research, emotion recognition, animal welfare, methods and techniques, Automating behavioral observations, human behavior research, consumer behavior, behavioral research, measuring behavior, conferences
They may have just found the answer to this at the University of Toronto, Mississauga (Canada). Cheung et al. tried out a method using subcutaneous injection with dyes.
Clipping fins and adding tags
There have been many advances in methods and techniques for experiments with zebrafish, but identifying individuals seems like a difficult problem to tackle. You can’t just tell from the pattern of their stripes like with zebras, so even the trained eye can’t tell them apart. Many researchers use markings – clipping the fins in a specific way. It’s a relatively easy method, but because these fins are mainly transparent, these markings are difficult to see. Moreover, clipping fins might interfere with the fish’s swimming abilities, which poses a new problem, especially for behavioral studies.
If zebrafish are the new mice, guinea pigs might be the new rats. According to Kiera-Nicole Lee and her colleagues, guinea pigs differ from mice and rats, and that just might make them more suitable for some neuroscience research due to the fact that these results are more easily translated to humans.
And how to study their behavior in great detail
If you want to get on in life, is it better to make friends, or should you trample down the competition? Maybe we can learn something from animals… Take hens for example, we probably all know what a ‘pecking order’ is. As a hen, if you don’t peck back, you will definitely loose out. On the other hand, if you are a pig, being social will get you somewhere. In fact, studies show that social pigs are healthier and grow better, and having social pen mates also has these positive effects.
Reimert et al. wanted to look at the behavior of social pigs more closely. In their recent study (published Applied Animal Behaviour Science), they used both video tracking and scoring of behavior to assess behavior in a combined novel location and novel object test.
Topics: EthoVision XT, The Observer XT, animal behavior research, social behavior research, video observation, coding schemes, animal welfare, tracking, anxiety research, pigs, ethogram, Pocket Observer
It seems inevitable: the end-of-year lists. And yes, here at the Noldus blog, you can find them too. I did not want leave 2013 behind us without mentioning our three most popular blog posts on animal behavior research of this year. While 13 might not be a lucky number for some, we have had a great year in which we saw a lot of growth in zebrafish research and the combination of optogenetics and behavior. Not surprisingly, these two topics showed up in our top 3.
Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, The Observer XT, animal behavior research, video observation, fish, zebrafish, Danio rerio, DanioVision, Parkinson's Disease, rats, birds, CatWalk XT, gait analysis, arthritis, monkey, locomotion, 2013
If you are familiar with neurobehavioral research in any way, you will know that variables like velocity and distance moved are important parameters in a lot of animal behavioral experiments. While these are difficult to measure with the naked eye, video tracking software does an excellent job of doing this automatically.