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).

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Mink brain paper in press at last!

6 08 2019

So exciting to see this paper now in the ‘in press’ section of Behavioural Brain Research!

We successfully found individual correlates of stereotypic behaviour (in the nucleus accumbens), but they differed for different sub-types, and also were not affected by housing even though this was massively impactful on behaviour (and despite some independent evidence that housing altered direct:indirect pathway activity). Morals: stereotypic behaviours really are heterogeneous; and the neurological correlates of individual variation may tell you nothing at all about how barren housing causes this behaviour (something that remains a mystery in these animals).

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Standard lab cages make female mice aggressive

17 07 2019

Emma N’s paper is out already! Here is a link giving free full access for 45 days or so.

And the short answer to the question in the title is that we don’t know: we just couldn’t fully identify why enriched mice are so much more pacific than standard-caged females. Some of it was that crowding elevates encounter rates, but that wasn’t the full explanation. We suspect frustration and negative judgment biases, but that’s for future work… Meanwhile, just know that female mice sharing good environments are like the Golden Girls; but for those in standard cages, it’s all a bit more Orange is the New Black.

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Nice text to wake up to

20 06 2019

From Maria!


We have a “hot paper”!

10 06 2019

Nice find from Andrea, who’s busy collecting a second batch of monkey data, this time in Portland: our play paper‘s finally doing well!

hot paper

Woo hoo!

10 04 2019

In press at last, with a Nov. 2019 publication date (a full 17 months after we first submitted the paper) !!!

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Revisions revisions revisions

10 04 2019


Our flurry of paper submissions in Fall and Winter has triggered a logjam of revisions requests and referees’ reports. And because peer review is a lottery, they’ve spanned the whole gamut from humblingly helpful to unbelievably frustrating.

Waiting longest in the queue is Maria’s mink brain paper with Behavioural Brain Research (and I can’t even remember now what they wanted changing!). But then a flurry arrived in the last 2-3 weeks: Lindsey’s Behavioural Processes paper and Misha’s Scientific Reports paper, both back with thought provoking but very useful comments; a paper on her main MSc results that Emma lead-authored for Applied Animal Behaviour Science, blissfully requiring only minor revisions; and our cat faces paper, back again from Animal Welfare, and the only one we’ve managed to resubmit so far (please, pleeeease *sob*, just drop it Referee 2).

AW resubm