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



Birds using fire as a tool?

10 01 2018

Reports have built up over millennia, in the oral history of aboriginal people and more recently too, that Australian birds of prey exploit the way that bush fires flush out prey, by deliberately spreading it!

These incredible accounts have now been collated and analysed in the Journal of Ethnobiology  Here is a write up in National Geographic, and here’s a video by New Scientist.


Lab meeting at the Delta

14 12 2017

To say goodbye to Lauren (whose unorthodox mink enrichment/cat faces contract has just ended) while everyone was still here before Christmas, we held our Tuesday lab meeting at the Delta so I could buy food and drinks.

Left to right below we have: coursework student Aileen, Lauren herself, new-ish MSc thesis student Sam, MSc thesis students Aimee and Miranda, and then PhD students old and new: Andrea, Michelle and Misha (coursework student Basma being kept at bay by weather, MSc thesis student Emma sidetracked by a sick cat, and undergrad Lindsey consumed by exams).

delta-dec-12th-2017-e1513282253359.jpgWe’ve been reading Thinking from A-Z and the Fallacy Files for a few months, and this week were going to go over modus ponens and modus tollens again. But we got in a muddle, not least as I hadn’t done my homework and kept getting the wrong end of the stick (it’s been a brutal semester). So, we’ll revisit that we fresh heads in the New Year. Instead we covered the infamous and some might say tedious “Three Circles” (with fun post-its), as Ian and Derek planned to lead a discussion on this on Thursday.

Audience effects on dog facial expressions

23 10 2017

Just as for smiling in humans, alarm calling in chickens and many other signals, having an audience (here, a human rather than a member of their own species) potentiates facial expressions in dogs. This has been revealed in a new paper in Scientific Reports  (nicely covered by the Guardian here).

I’d love to now know if dogs produce different expressions for humans than they do for other dogs, and whether associative learning plays a role (since I’m convinced — not least as cats are so good at tailoring what they do to what pushes our buttons — that Sylvie makes cute faces when she notices me looking at her, which I then totally reinforce with cuddles).  Thanks to Jamie for passing this on!

Screenshot 2017-10-22 21.54.04

A cleverness of ravens

21 07 2017

Screenshot 2017-07-21 08.07.38Nice new work out in Science last week:

Resting rich face

15 07 2017

Interesting new research from UoT published here, and written up for popular consumption here: being comfortably off makes you look happier. Amazing (and sad) that they found effects in people so young.

Biphasic sleep!

12 07 2017

I’m normal! Wish someone had told me this years ago:

Screenshot 2017-07-11 22.41.44

Found while actually looking for this information, heard on the BBC and apparently out in Proc. Roy. Soc. B today: