Behavioral Research Blog

Positive Behavior Support: Good behavior can be learned

Posted by Jacqueline Martinali on Nov 4, 2015, 10:14 AM

‘Mom, what's for dinner tonight?’ It’s a daily recurring question from my children. Having dinner is an important part of the day and also a way for parents or caregivers to influence a child's diet. With the observed increase in pediatric obesity in recent years, a child’s family, particularly his parents, may influence eating behavior, diet, and physical activity through their parenting and food choices. Some factors that affect eating behavior can be: what and how much food do parents serve their children? To what extent do they encourage their children to eat healthy food instead of unhealthy food? It’s important to raise awareness amongst parents of young children of the consequences of unhealthy eating habits, and teach them to create a healthy nutritional environment for their children.

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Topics: The Observer XT, parent-child interaction, Eating behavior, Observation, Positive Behavior Support

Information gap makes children guess

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Aug 3, 2015, 10:00 AM

When children lack information, they make up stories by adding up their own guesses. Their imagination can run wild: all elephants are pink, right? This kind of reasoning is undesirable when trying to explain a rare disorder of a sister or brother. Guesswork may result in incorrect illness explanations and might cause related miscommunication or behavioral problems. When we learn more about how siblings describe illnesses, we might be able to appropriately assist family counselors and parents.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, parent-child interaction, developmental psychology, conversation analysis

Revealing the secret social role of the CA2 hippocampus

Posted by Abbe H. Macbeth, PhD on Jul 23, 2015, 12:43 PM

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?

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

Movement analysis in volleyball

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jul 7, 2015, 4:33 PM

When analyzing movement in sports, there is more that matters than the way players handle their rackets or hockey sticks. Observation of the way players move and their response time, overall fitness, body strength, and, of course, the overall team performance all help create a more complete picture. Sports scientists look into effective interplay of team members and actions including on-the-ball behaviors. In team sports, complex tactics and routines can be revealed by detailed behavior analysis.

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Topics: The Observer XT, sport

Alcohol makes men smile

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

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.

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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 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 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 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

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