Proud granny

29 01 2018

I’m honestly not aware of all my academic grandchildren (though am proud to have great grand children now), but my first — Brett, Collette and Brianna — are special. And Brett just got his PhD! Congratulations Dr. Dufour, and bon voyage as you move to Seattle for a post-doc.

Screenshot 2018-01-28 23.01.54

Strangely-lateralised nostril use in dogs

24 01 2018

Screenshot 2018-01-23 21.15.07I’m a sucker for asymmetries related to affective processing too. And this recent-ish study, that I just came across, is pretty strange.

Apparently dogs can smell when humans are afraid, which is perhaps not surprising.  In this study, dogs were presented with the odours of scared or running people, along with the smells of isolated or disturbed dogs. And their sniffing behaviour was looked at in more detail.

The research dogs were found to preferentially use their right nostrils to sniff the odours of scared conspecifics, as you might expect. But they used their left nostrils to sniff the scents of running or frightened people. In trying to come up with an explanation, the authors suggest that predatory motivations may be at work.

Slightly creepy, eh? Cats really are best.

Hook-making crows in the news again

24 01 2018

I’m always a sucker for clever and interesting corvids, so here is some more research on the hook-makers of New Caledonia.

Lecture room 112 and a half

24 01 2018

On Friday afternoon I went to Mackinnen for class to find room 113, since I was scheduled to be lecturing in ‘Mac 113’.  But once there, I could not find the room. It soon became time for the class to start, and I still wasn’t there: I was just rushing up and down the corridor, wringing my hands.

When I finally found a map (see below, including a reflection of my sweating forehead), it turned out there WAS no room 113.


I was nearly in tears by this point. What to do? By 10 minutes after the time the class was supposed to start, I was ready to run at a wall, Harry Potter style, and hope it appeared that way.

Then a helpful passerby asked, could be MacNaughton 113?  And it was. Damn and blast these Scots!!!!!!  And so began the first of my lectures on stress and the brain …

The Ahloy-Dallaires

23 01 2018

Becky wasn’t my only Christmas catch-up: Jamie and Liana were in town, braving the -20 temperatures despite their California-thinned blood.

Totally fab to see them too; so great I later demanded a pic, so here they are enjoying a “backwoods family outing” in Quebec.


Disclosures from Meagher and accomplices

23 01 2018

Becky just made a truly magnificent find. It begins“Your restricted pet is in all probability comparably as depleted as you think it is by all accounts, according to another examination from the University of Guelph in Canada, which has, out of nowhere, estimated signs of exhaustion in an animal” … and it takes it from there.

We had thought this was a Google Translate hack job from another language. But no, the site is based in Rhode Island, and every post is written like this. It’s a gem!

Saw Becky in person last month too, as she was over during the Christmas break, and very lovely it was too. Despite the inevitable horrors of taking up a faculty position, she seems to be thriving. And she even found time to help Andrea, who’s analysing our third “mink boredom” study (for which coverage like this, well, we can only dream …)


Need to borrow one of Jonathan’s T-shirts…

19 01 2018

… as I have a lecture to give tomorrow (on the amygdala and anxiety, ironically) and it is not finished! Aiyee! But interesting new work from UBC suggests a way I can help myself calm down: Screenshot 2018-01-18 21.41.02



Ninja cats

19 01 2018

Stunning photos from Japan (of course): and

Screenshot 2018-01-18 21.24.43


The agony of frustration?

14 01 2018

One of the papers I read for our ‘cat faces study  was by Holden and colleagues on facial expressions of pain. They found that compared to pain-free cats (left), cats in pain (right) pull their ears to the side (top row; and they also have — see bottom row — bulgy cheeks, a bit like mice in pain).



This made me realise with a lurch that Mouse had been doing the ears thing for years. But what the Holden work didn’t do is include cats in other types of negative affective state. And when Luke, a cat who seriously does not like being thwarted, watches squirrels he cannot chase (left, below), he is definitely doing it too….



But is it art?

13 01 2018

Found on the departmental printer this afternoon: