Behavioral Research Blog

How fruit flies find your food (and mates!)

Posted by G. Smit, MSc & A.H. Macbeth, PhD on Aug 18, 2016

Those tiny flies that take over your garbage cans during the summer? They are called fruit flies (or, Drosophila, their scientific name) for a reason! They have a fantastic sense of smell, but they also have a lot more in common with us that you might think. With 75% genetic commonality with humans, particularly the genes that cause human disease, these tiny creatures are a popular animal model for researchers.

 

Image courtesy of Hans Smid, www.bugsinthepicture.com
Read More

Topics: Video tracking, social behavior research, drosophila, fruit fly

Serotonin and social skills: how adult mice differ from juveniles

Posted by G. Smit, MSc & A.H. Macbeth, PhD on Jan 7, 2016

Serotonin (5-HT) is a busy neurotransmitter, influencing such varied neuronal processes as memory, mood, emotion, appetite, and even sexuality. A prime role for this neurotransmitter is social behavior, across a variety of species; humans, rodents, primates, and even flies all rely upon serotonin to display normal social behaviors. These social effects are partly mediated through the serotonin receptor 5-HT2CR. This role has been confirmed by pharmacologic treatment, but until recently this work had focused primarily on adult rodents. In this current article, Séjourné and colleagues from the Scripps Research Institute (Florida, USA) for the first time investigated the role of 5-HT2CR in the development of social behavior.

Read More

Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, social behavior research, sociability test, seizure behavior

Throwing Shade: The Science of Resting Bitch Face

Posted by Jason Rogers, Ph.D. & Abbe Macbeth, Ph.D. on Oct 14, 2015

We all know the face. No, not just the face, but that face. That look that she swears is not a look. She says she’s not angry; she reassures you she’s having fun. But her face has been “throwing shade” all night – without saying anything, that face is indicating that she is not happy; more than not happy, she’s about to make your night miserable too. There are plenty of memes, jokes, and videos, much like this one, which make light of that face, which in 2015 has become better known as “Resting B---- Face” (RBF).

Read More

Topics: social behavior research, emotion recognition, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, emotions, measuring behavior, RBF, Resting Bitch Face

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?

Read More

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

Bonobos not always as tolerant as generally believed: the plot thickens…

Posted by Guest blogger on Jun 4, 2015

A guest blog p ost by Jeroen MG Stevens & Katherine A Cronin

Bonobos (Pan paniscus) are the least well known of the great apes, discovered only in 1929. Often they are contrasted with their closest relatives: the chimpanzees. In a common dichotomous view, chimpanzees are portrayed as brutal, aggressive, and demonic, while bonobos are portrayed as nice, peaceful, and hedonistic.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, social behavior research, apes

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!

Read More

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

How wild cavies and domesticated guinea pigs differ

Posted by G. Smit on Aug 5, 2014

Domestication has a considerable effect on the behavior of animals, which is not very surprising. The dramatic change in their environment and provision of food and shelter alter the need for behaviors such as exploration and social behaviors. But what exactly is the difference?

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, social behavior research, guinea pigs, stress research

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.

Read More

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

Why wolves cry out for their friends

Posted by G. Smit on Apr 3, 2014

Why do wolves howl? From research, movies, and even television series, we learn that wolves cry out to each other to facilitate the reassembling of a pack when members have strayed. These calls are a functional way of long-distance communication, not only for wolves but also other species such as birds and mammals. So the functional importance of this behavior seems evident. But what actually makes a wolf cry? Is it because it misses its friends? Or is it simply something its body tells it to do?

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, social behavior research, mobile observation, Pocket Observer, social hierarchy, wolves, vocalizations

How to mark zebrafish without compromising their behavior

Posted by G. Smit on Mar 20, 2014

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.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, animal behavior research, social behavior research, video observation, zebrafish, markers

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all