I HAVE been feeling foolishly bold recently …

25 09 2013

… being no stranger to cat litter: willing to bet I’m in the 30% that have this.


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Stunning NYT op ed piece

25 09 2013

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46% Americans are creationists???? Maybe it’s not surprising given how delayed their kids are.

Here is the rest of it, and here too is the Popular Science blog (from Becky – thanks Becky!) that led me to it. Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroscience and Cog. Sci. seminars

25 09 2013

This term’s NACS seminars started last week, and after a break or a year or two where I couldn’t make them, I have jiggled things around so I can start going again. They’re never useful, but that’s why I love them – it’s just nice to learn random behavioural stuff, and I think the NACS group is the most dynamic group on campus (yep, even more than us).

I do love a good pun

25 09 2013

OK it’d be ridiculous to use a stats technique because of one punning paper, but I’m tempted. Heather and I are trying to solve the problem that some of her parrot species are very poorly sampled, and some are very well sampled, and the stricter she is about inclusion criteria, the fewer species will end up in her model (In other words we have a trade-off of accuracy against replicate no. with no idea which is most important for power). Click here for a recent write-up of Heather’s project (though one that’s sadly way too optimistic about our ability to get data from zoos). Her magnificent pet parrot survey ended recently and she now has behavioural and husbandry data from nearly 2000 parrots spanning dozens of species…

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It’s a shitty job…

25 09 2013

… but someone’s got to do it. Here is Jamie processing mink faecal samples for cort assay (strictly, cort metabolite assay) by Rupert Palme. He’s being helped by Kathryn Reynolds, a neuroscience student who’s doing a two-semester honours project with me to look at how the structural effects of enrichment on mouse brains relate to their affective effects (she’s helping to make up for the fact that Mike and Carole processed 200+ mouse samples without her last week). The method is quite clever  – it extracts the steroids from each poo sample, turning them into into a crispy, inoffensive residue in a plastic tube that can be posted in the regular mail.  Jamie’s hope is that his samples (around 600!) will reveal whether play in young mink helps create stress-resistent adults.

Shitty work

How about THIS??

20 09 2013

Pretty sure I can use this in class …somehow…

How can I use THIS in class?

20 09 2013

Jonathan is bombarding me with videos that could be useful in class. This one is fabulous (though I really can’t think of an excuse to show it).

Marshmallow Test

20 09 2013

Used this in class this week; may not be typical applied ethology but just great for displacement activities, intention movements and even some stereotypies (plus cute as anything).

“Rat Park” and how misery promotes addiction

19 09 2013

My old friend Pete from way back just reminded me of this classic work on enriched (normal) versus isolated, non-enriched (thus miserable, screwed up) rats, via a blog article he found. I’ve read many accounts of this cool-looking work (including the Wiki piece); really about time I read the original papers…

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Surprise bouquet!

18 09 2013

This just arrived from Charlie! I commented on her draft Nature MS last week (on health issues in pedigree dogs), so this was a (totally not needed) thank you. If she gets it in, I’m sending her an even nicer bunch!