Why do we cry?

16 01 2019

Nice little podcast from Dave Baddiel as he tries to unravel the mystery of crying. I learned some interesting new things, for sure, but HOW COULD THEY MISS that the smell of tears shrivels mens’ erections?

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ISAE photos

16 01 2019

Just stumbled across two photos from the ISAE and realised I should just quickly post them since I am never going to do a proper write up! In a small nutshell, my talk went well, so did everyone else‘s, and here are Emma (bottom) and Aimee (top) rocking it. My favourite presentation, aside from the Japanese onesJan Langbein, on goats who seek human help when they get stuck operating their puzzle feeders.



Congratulations to Misha!

6 01 2019

This is LONG overdue: Misha defended his PhD thesis in November!  I may be dragging my heels writing this up just because I’ve worked with him for so many years off and on (we’ve known each other at least a decade), that I can’t quite believe the end is coming up (though I did finagle 3 months of post-doc money for him, so we’re not quite there yet!).

The defence had a slightly surreal start: first, Jonathan turning up in a suit scared the bejesus out of Misha, and then the video connection wasn’t working so Marian Dawkins, our fantastic external examiner, was there only as a disembodied voice blaring out at full volume from an invisible speaker.


But then Misha relaxed into it and all went well. Marian had the infuriatingly astute questions I was braced for (querying whether enriched hens were really resilient to acute stress or just showing blunted physiological responses for some reason: ugh, why didn’t we have acute rewards as control events?!). But that’s just why we wanted her.

Here are the rest of us at the end, all lined up neatly in height order: Misha, Trevor de Vries (chair), Alexandra (committee member), Steph Torrey, the ‘internal external’, and me:


luke is mutinous

That evening we celebrated with a lovely meal out (Miijidaa again). I was a bit late because Luke (right) wouldn’t let me wrap Misha’s present (a mini nail gun called a ‘palm nailer’ and a Home Depot gift token), but it was a great evening, and a pleasure meeting his astonishingly beautiful mother for the first time. Sam and Lindsey couldn’t make it but all the rest of the group can just about be seen below, plus Misha’s mum top left and wife Gwen to his left in the bottom pic. And to read his terrific thesis, click here!





Learning and memory in plants

6 01 2019

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Monica Gagliano, the researcher behind the 2016 “learning by peas” paper (see here for some critical commentary) was in the news today, promoting her new book.

I am intrigued but withholding judgment ’til I’ve all the relevant papers. Expect my assessment by about 2025.

Dutch anger management

6 01 2019

The BBC just covered a new method for coping with anger (in a Dutch scrapyard); it involves smashing things (so I love it) and is called ‘destruction therapy‘. Nothing on it in Google Scholar yet though (but it does remind me of how chewing things appears to reduce stress in rodents).

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There’s always one

4 01 2019

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– from Becky’s great Twitterfeed.

What Becky got for Christmas

4 01 2019


Looks beautiful (though I hope it wasn’t all she got!)