Behavioral Research Blog

Zebrafish provide key insights into alcohol addiction

Posted by Guest blogger on Dec 11, 2015

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, at this year's Neuroscience I talked to someone from the Gerlai Lab at the University of Toronto (Ontario) who is involved in very interesting research on alcohol addiction. That person was Steven Tran, and I am very happy to say that he agreed to share a story on our Behavioral Research Blog. Take it away, Steven!

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, zebrafish, anxiety research, addiction

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

Posted by G. Smit on Aug 6, 2015

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

Revealing the secret social role of the CA2 hippocampus

Posted by Abbe H. Macbeth, PhD on Jul 23, 2015

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

3 studies to get you in the mood for the European Zebrafish Meeting in Oslo

Posted by G. Smit on Jun 26, 2015

It is almost time for the 9th European Zebrafish Meeting in Oslo, Norway! So here are a couple of recent publications on zebrafish research to get you in the mood.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, zebrafish, Danio rerio, DanioVision, anxiety research, novel tank test, shoaling behavior

A new method to evaluate if dogs are suitable for IED bomb detection

Posted by Linda Hoekstra on May 7, 2015

Military dogs, especially improvised explosive device (IED)-detection dogs, work in war zones under harsh conditions. Being attuned to fear-inducing sounds and recovering quickly is a critical requirement. Margaret Gruen and her colleagues recently investigated a new method to assess sound induced fear and anxiety in candidate IED-detection dogs – specifically, Labrador retrievers.  

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Topics: EthoVision XT, dogs, open field test, anxiety research, physiology, fear research

Top 14 of last year’s animal behavior research blog posts

Posted by G. Smit on Dec 30, 2014

We cannot stay behind when it comes to the end-of-year lists, so here is a top 14 of 2014’s most popular animal behavior posts on our Noldus behavioral research blog. (For a top 3 on human behavior research, see this post) As expected, the list is dominated by zebrafish research, but it’s not the topic of our most read post!

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Topics: mice, social behavior research, dogs, horses, zebrafish, learning and memory, open field test, anxiety research, rats, wolves, caterpillars, 2014, crayfish

How zebrafish are changing neuroscience

Posted by G. Smit on May 1, 2014

Zebrafish. This small little fish is a vertebrate, and a relatively complex one at that. Looking at all the major neurotransmitters and hormones that are investigated in neuroscience, they are as good of a model as many mammalian species. Indeed, recent studies have shown how they are ideal  for testing in behavioral domains such as anxiety, sociality, sleep, reward, and cognition.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, social behavior research, zebrafish, anxiety research, T-maze, novel tank test, bottom dwelling

How to easily automate the elevated plus maze test

Posted by G. Smit on Feb 20, 2014

Anxiety. It is nature’s way to keep us out of harm’s way, so it is a useful emotion. At times, though, it can also be overwhelming. For some, it gets out of control, irrational, and even disabling. This is when we call it an anxiety disorder. Did you know that anxiety affects 20% of all people in some way or form? No wonder anxiety disorders are often subject of scientific study.

Anxiety in animals
Rats and mice are often used as model organism to study the basics of anxiety and anxiety disorders, possible treatments, neurodevelopment, and genetic backgrounds. The most well-known test paradigm is the elevated plus maze.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, anxiety research, rats, elevated plus maze

Why social pigs do better

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 28, 2014

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.

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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

Zebrafish research: behavioral differences between wild-type strains

Posted by G. Smit on Aug 20, 2013

Often in animal research, animals with a certain genetic alteration are compared to a “wild-type” (this being the ‘normal’ rat, mouse, or zebrafish). One might assume that there is no difference between one wild-type animal and the next, but in fact, many different strains of wild-type animals are used.

Many wild-type zebrafish strains
The same is true for zebrafish. Many studies talk of wild-type animals, but the strain is not always mentioned. Furthermore, wild-type fish can be acquired at the pet shop, from a commercial scientific supplier, or simply caught in the wild. Vignet et al. noticed that there have been reports of differences in behavior between wild-type strains, and therefore they stress the importance of matching the most appropriate strain to the behavioral test.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, fish, zebrafish, exploratory behavior, learning and memory, anxiety research, circadian rhytmicity, T-maze, color discrimination, novel tank test, light/dark challenge, bottom dwelling

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