Behavioral Research Blog

Alcohol makes men smile

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jul 1, 2015 8:46:35 AM

“Smokers Wanted.”  That’s exactly the statement I read in the Pitt News, the daily student newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh. U Pitt’s Alcohol and Smoking Research Lab was looking for study participants, and at this specific laboratory, “Smokers Wanted” is not an unusual request. Some time ago the lab recruited around 700 (!) participants for a drinking behavior study.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, Observation lab

Why not let calves choose? The dietary preferences of calves

Posted by Guest blogger on Jun 29, 2015 3:05:00 PM

Today, we are proud to have another guest blogger! Laura Webb has done some interesting research at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) on the dietary preferences of calves and honored us with a blog post! Also, there is a free case study available at the end of this post!

Calves, whether raised for milk or meat production, are typically fed diets that differ from diets of feral cattle herds. For example, veal calves receive large quantities of milk replacer and solid feed with little structure to chew on, while dairy calves are weaned off milk early on and receive mostly solid feed. Diets typically fed to calves can cause a number of welfare problems, including poor stomach health as well as stress due to the inability to perform highly-motivated natural behaviours such as rumination or sucking on a teat. Furthermore, there is much research indicating that animals, and in particular ruminants, are able to select a balanced diet and maximise their comfort. So why not let calves choose?

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, Cows, Pocket Observer, feeding behavior,, stereotypies

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

Posted by Guest blogger on Jun 4, 2015 12:03:00 PM

A guest blog post 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.

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Topics: The Observer XT, social behavior research, bonobos, apes

Does the sex of a simulated patient affect CPR?

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Apr 20, 2015 10:29:10 AM

It shouldn’t, but it does.

Although men and women are equally at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, studies have found that women are less likely to be resuscitated – by both bystanders and medically-trained personnel. Chelsea Kramer and her colleagues discovered that in the experiment they set up, when faced with either a male or female patient simulator, both men and women rescuers appeared reluctant to remove a female patient simulator’s clothing, with men being significantly more hesitant to do so. However, the hand placement for CPR on the female was more ideal compared to on the male simulated patient.

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Topics: The Observer XT, doctor patient interaction, medical encounter, media recorder, simulation, healthcare

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

Posted by Linda Hoekstra on Apr 17, 2015 12:00:00 PM

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

Behavior and emotions of older adults

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Mar 25, 2015 10:13:31 AM

With the predicted increase of the elderly population worldwide, it has become increasingly important to develop user-friendly products and services to assist elderly people in daily activities and improve their quality of life. Did you know that it is expected that in 2050 an estimated 1.5 billion people will be 65+, representing about 16% of the world’s population?[1]

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Topics: The Observer XT, Observation lab, living labs

Why non-verbal behavior matters

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jan 21, 2015 2:19:00 PM

Take a typical conversation: Hello, how are you? Fine! How are you? {pause} Fine! Shall we …….etcetera. The opening of this conversation is highly structured, isn’t it? The process of turn taking is a crucial and cooperative aspect of conversational speech. Gestures are also of great importance. When your feet are already turned to the door, you are getting ready to run out. Try to read your own signals and you will see!

Conversation closers

In a conversation we include hints like conversation openers, closers, and shifters. It’s a feeling we’re all familiar with: you’re trying desperately to end a conversation, and the other person keeps on talking and does not read the clues you are giving. You say: “Anyway… “ {…Person B keeps talking} “see you Thursday, all right?” and edge toward the door… {Person B talks over you.} “Thursday noon, was it, right?” {Person B still doesn’t get the hint to leave.}…and so on. In this frustrating exchange, Person B repeatedly ignores your conversation closers, both verbal (“right”, “all right”, “anyway”) and nonverbal.

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Topics: The Observer XT, doctor patient interaction, eye tracking

Understanding the impact of health information technology on doctor-patient interaction

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Dec 12, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Embracing the technological advances of the last decade, many health care professionals have incorporated information technology into their daily routines. Doctors can carry patient files around on their tablets or laptops and can quickly update a status when needed. Convenience has without a doubt increased, but does such easy access to technology impact the quality of doctor-patient interactions?

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

Ladybugs and lacewings do not spy on their prey’s alarm pheromone

Posted by Olga Krips on Dec 8, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Aphids and their natural enemies

Leaf sucking creatures like plant aphids are common and can cause considerable damage to plants. Therefore, quite a lot of effort is made to control these tiny creatures. And because of environmental awareness, sustainable methods to control aphids are well developed. Aphids can be controlled successfully with ladybugs (Coccinella septempunctata) and also with lacewings (Chrysoperla carnea). Both species are natural enemies of aphids.

Image ladybug - By Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium (Coccinella magnifica) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Topics: The Observer XT, coding schemes, insect behavior, insect

Behavioral video analysis supports Rett syndrome research

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 25, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe progressive neurodevelopmental disorder. It affects girls almost exclusively and is characterized by normal early growth and development followed by a slowing of development, loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, problems with walking, seizures, and intellectual disability (Rett Syndrome Fact Sheet, 2014). In the study discussed in this blog post, the researchers indicated that normal cooing and babbling were absent in the first two years of life. They also observed finger movements and found that they occurred sporadically with limited variability. Let us zoom in on this original article published in the Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, parent-child interaction

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