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Behavioral Research Blog

Interspecific aggression: spotted dolphins vs. bottlenose dolphins

Jun 30, 2014 2:13:37 PM

In the animal kingdom, competition is a part of life. Dominance hierarchies are common both within a group in a species (intergroup) or between two different species (interspecific). These hierarchies often result in aggression as the groups fight for dominance. It would make sense, therefore, that two species who are similar in status in the dominance hierarchy would have an unstable relationship and therefore engage in interspecific aggression continuously over time. One example of two species consistently engaging in interspecific aggression to establish dominance would be the Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

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Topics: The Observer XT, behavioral research, dolphin

The welfare of therapy dogs

Jun 25, 2014 10:32:00 AM

As anyone who owns a pet could probably tell you, animals are great comforts to their human partners. The relationship between animal and human can go beyond just pet and owner, however, and become a therapeutic relationship. For example, dogs have been used with adult substance abuse patients in animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT). Why use dogs in therapy? They can be a good motivator for participation in an intervention and become a source of trust and comfort to the patient, thus improving the chance of therapy success. There has been a lot of research done on the impact that using dogs in therapy can have on humans. But what about the effect it has on the welfare of the dogs?

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Topics: The Observer XT, animal-human interaction, dogs, animal welfare

How to measure emotions in pigs

Jun 23, 2014 3:00:00 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why social pigs do better. This week, one of the researchers in this project, Inonge Reimert explains about the novel object/novel environment test they performed.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, The Observer XT, animal welfare, pigs, emotions

Two examples of parent-child interaction research

Jun 2, 2014 9:44:00 AM


Father-infant social behavior

Patterns

Fatherhood is a topic of high social relevance that attracts much public interest and therefore also the attention of scientists. The important shifts in the father’s role and involvement in childcare have generated empirical interest in the specific patterns of father-infant interactions and their unique contributions to children’s social, emotional, and cognitive growth.

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Topics: The Observer XT, infant behavior, Observation lab, parent-infant dyads

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

Observational research - Dementia and robots

Feb 24, 2014 9:13:00 AM

For people with dementia, it is very important to keep connections with the outside world. When living at home, people will often still go to the grocery store or to the hairdresser. However, when they are living in a long-term care home, the context changes greatly. Without meaningful communication, there is a high risk of social isolation and communication opportunities with friends or family members can also be further reduced.

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Topics: The Observer XT, robotics, human-robot interaction

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


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