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Behavioral Research Blog

Why wolves cry out for their friends

Apr 3, 2014 2:00:00 PM

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?

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

Healthcare communication - dealing with emotions

Mar 25, 2014 9:44:00 AM

 

The importance of dealing with emotions in medical encounters

Unfortunately, sometimes doctors have to give bad news to their patients. Communication studies have shown that breaking bad news is best be done immediately and with clear wording. What is the best step forward? From previous research, we know that hearing bad news evokes physiological arousal. In an aroused condition, it can be hard to stay focused. The information density of a medical encounter can be quite overwhelming. Since doctors explain treatment options and implications in a medical encounter, it is important that the patient recalls the information given to be able to take a well-founded decision. In a recent study, researchers gave the following advice: Clinicians should deal with patients’ emotions before providing additional medical information (Sep et al., 2014).

Affective communication

Milou Sep and colleagues explain how behavioral research techniques can help us understand and improve doctor-patient interaction. According to Sep and colleagues, a doctor can influence the information recall by using affective communication. When reassuring the patient and focusing on continued support, the doctor can help decrease evoked physiological arousal. Decreased physiological arousal then improves the level of information recall.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter, coding schemes

How to mark zebrafish without compromising their behavior

Mar 20, 2014 8:48:00 AM

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.

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

Insect damage on leaves changes the reproductive strategy of plants

Mar 6, 2014 8:00:00 PM

Optimizing pollination

We all know that the majority of plant species depends on pollinators, like bees and syrphid flies, for reproduction. What most of us do not know is that this process is far more complex than it looks at first sight. Think about it: pollinators do not visit flowers to transfer pollen, but to collect nectar. If the amount of nectar in the flowers is too large, the pollinators will not visit other flowers to collect more, so no pollen is transferred to other plants. Conversely, if the amount of nectar is too small, it will not pay for the pollinators to visit those flowers. So plants have to fine-tune the nectar production in their flowers to optimize pollination. And did you know that some plant species even add toxins to their nectar, which stimulates pollinators to move to other plants, bringing the pollen with them [1]?

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Topics: The Observer XT, insect behavior, mobile observation, Pocket Observer, insect

Observe police interrogations – research on adolescence

Feb 12, 2014 9:34:00 AM

Interrogation research crosses multiple disciplines. For example, researchers will look into demographics but also investigate the techniques of interrogation. Recently, Hayley Cleary and Sarah Vidal investigated interrogations in order to describe interrogation settings and its participants in a basic way. They explain that such information about the participants and the setting is still missing and that they are particularly interested in how adolescents act in interrogation settings.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, coding schemes, adolescent behavior, police interrogations

Nurse-child interaction - observing medical encounters

Feb 5, 2014 8:52:00 AM

Does reassuring help a child to settle down and be comforted?

In order to help health professionals and parents manage child distress more effectively, researchers started observations of interactions in healthcare. They were not observing simulated events, but real interactions in a community setting. In medical encounters, both the parents and the health professionals can play an important role in handling the stress level of children. Yuefang Zhou and Gerry Michael Humphris from the University of St Andrews, Scotland (2013) investigated the relationship between reassurance by dental staff and distress behavior of children receiving preventive procedures. Since this study concerned a preventive procedure where no pain was involved, this study aims to shed light on these specific interventions in healthcare. The researchers selected children aged 3 to 5 years and measured the level of anxiety to determine a base level. The knowledge gained from this study could be used to design more effective interventions for the improvement of child behavioral distress associated with mildly invasive clinical procedures.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter

Why social pigs do better

Jan 28, 2014 8:43:00 AM

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

Doctor-patient communication training program evaluated

Jan 22, 2014 9:17:00 AM

Colleagues from many different universities study communication in healthcare to empower themselves in this process. Every day, new training programs find their way to hospitals and clinics in order to help professionals. From medical encounters between patient and radiation oncologists to nurse-patient interaction between direct-care staff and Korean Americans in nursing or senior living homes, all of these professionals need to be able to convey their message efficiently and effectively in order to practice their profession.

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Topics: The Observer XT, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter, coding schemes

Autism Top 10 Blog Articles from the Behavioral Research Blog

Jan 14, 2014 4:13:00 PM

It was no surprise that these blog articles attracted lots of attention. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. (www.autismspeaks.org). Read the Autism Top 10 Blog Articles from the Behavioral Research Blog to stay updated on the latest developments in Autism Research.

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Topics: Video tracking, The Observer XT, video observation, T-patterns, Theme, autism research

Most and least popular posts of 2013 (animal behavior research)

Dec 31, 2013 10:03:00 AM

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.

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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


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