Behavioral Research Blog

How optogenetics is used to study the stress response in zebrafish larvae

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 23, 2017

Optogenetics - making neurons sensitive to activation by light - is a great tool in the unraveling of the function of the brain in biological processes and behavior. In a recent study by Rodrigo J. De Marco and his colleagues used optogenetic techniques to uncover the role of the pituitary in zebrafish larvae behavior after the onset of stress.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, zebrafish, optogenetics, stress research

Which head and neck positions are stressful for your horse during lunging?

Posted by Linda Hoekstra on Apr 17, 2015

Being a horse owner and a Noldus employee is the perfect combination when it comes to keeping track of the scientific background for my horseback riding hobby. Since horses communicate differently than humans, I always wonder if I have a “happy athlete” when we are exercising together. Esmee Smiet and colleagues recently investigated the effects of different head and neck positions (HNPs) on behavior, heart rate variability (HRV) and cortisol levels in lunged Royal Dutch Sport horses. Interestingly, they were able to find significant differences in stress response between different head and neck positions, suggesting that there are indeed low stress and high stress ways to exercise your horse.  

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Topics: The Observer XT, horses, physiology, stress research

How young zebrafish cope with stress

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 15, 2015

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

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?

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

The impact of visitor access in a shelter on the welfare of shelter dogs

Posted by Julie Harrison on Jul 31, 2014

If you’ve ever been to a shelter to adopt a dog, you know that when you walk into the holding area, the dogs can get very noisy. At the introduction of a stranger to the room their kennels are in, the dogs will start barking, which encourages the other dogs around them to bark as well. Barking has been documented as a stressor for dog, as have repetitive behavior and lots of movement. All of these behaviors seem to increase by the access of visitors to the kennel area. Lynn Hewison and colleagues decided to investigate if preventing visitor access to the dogs could lower stress levels and therefore increase general welfare of the animals.

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Topics: The Observer XT, animal-human interaction, dogs, coding schemes, animal welfare, stress research

How zebrafish and optogenetics are great for investigating stress

Posted by G. Smit on Sep 23, 2013

By this point, we do not need to tell you how popular zebrafish are in scientific research. We also probably do not need to point out the great technological advances that are being made in research because of the use of optogenetics. It is safe to say that zebrafish and optogenetics are popular in neuroscience research. Today, let us tell you about the study of De Marco et al. (2013), which combined the two. 

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, zebrafish, tracking, optogenetics, stress research

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