My expertise in Proboscidean cardiology…

20 08 2019

… is not quite as great as they think (the shame, the shame):

Screenshot 2019-08-20 17.28.24

Affect-modulated startle in hens!

20 08 2019

Misha’s first hen paper came out this week! In this work we assessed whether improved welfare would reduce chickens’ startle magnitudes (check: the first evidence for affective modulation of this reflex in birds!), and also make their judgment biases more optimistic (kind of … but only if you squint and look at a subset of birds). We then looked to see whether these two forms of stimulus appraisal covary (nope).

It’s lovely, lovely work, produced after a painfully long parturition (tough – if not unreasonable – stats requests from our referees, who also showed alarming convictions that any test you label ‘judgment bias’ is automatically a window into an animal’s very soul).

Screenshot 2019-08-20 17.05.06

The strangest place I’ve ever reworked a protocol

20 08 2019

Adding to my ‘unusual places’ theme, last week I found myself exchanging text after text about experimental design while perched on a 17th century windowsill surrounded by stuffed stags’ heads. The venue? The fabulously eccentric, run-down pile of Calke Abbey.


And the reason? Another mistake in the ‘judgment bias’ study, spotted in time but needing a swift, nimble solution that could accommodate A & A’s growing exhaustion, the extinction of some mice to the unreinforced ambiguous cue, and noisy renovations planned in the CAF on Monday (by which time this experiment had been supposed to be safely over).

We pulled it off, all will be well, and the experiment will be good¬† (if very unlikely to validate the task). But the surreal final twist was that the mouse retraining that had to happen on the noisy Monday was accompanied by the faint sound of drilling, which apparently sounded like crying. So, Augustina, Aileen and Sylvia¬† each thought one of the others was quietly weeping. Now that’s judgment bias! These women need a well-deserved rest, that’s for sure.

Whoosh: the ‘fish tube’!

20 08 2019

A little later than The Entire World (as ever), I’ve just just caught up with the ‘fish tube’ that propels salmon over dams … so inspiring much silliness on the web.


Postcard from Bergen

20 08 2019


From Michelle, at the end of the recent ISAE conference:

Screenshot 2019-08-20 16.17.18

She got to visit Howard Browman’s aquaculture research facility too. I so wish I could have made both, but I was saving my energy for a UK trip (and also for ISAE next year in … Bangalore!).

Below, Maria at her poster on mink thermoregulation, both Ms looking stunning at the banquet, and Bergen itself:



UN urges us to change what we eat

10 08 2019

Hard to ignore this as fires burn in the arctic …

Extra blocking factor

9 08 2019

A miscommunication this week led to half our judgment bias mice getting trained on the wrong stimuli for 3 days (apparently they were visibly confused).


Luckily A & A caught it in time, and the mice have bounced back on track once re-exposed to their original training stimuli. But looking ahead to the stats, whether or not they were affected by this, um, screw up, definitely has to be added to the models now.