Stereotypies in space?

16 04 2019

And here is the paper:  (N.B. It’s not entirely clear to me how the mice can be said to be expressing a “full range of species-typical behaviors”, when they’re living in a wire mesh box. By “full” the authors must mean “limited” I guess)

Ten simple rules towards healthier research labs

15 04 2019

Fantastic, humane and very sensible paper in one of the PLoS journals this week:


Cats recognise their own names…

6 04 2019

… showed Japanese researchers today, in a clever experiment utilising habituation-dishabituation.

What they made less of is the way most cats do not respond at all: the (comedy) graphs below shows tail flicks, ear twitches etc. made while cats hear 5 nouns, the 5th of which is their name. They’re impressively indifferent! Cats’ abilities were only revealed when the researchers analysed the sub-set of animals who showed habituation over the first four nouns (i.e. who progressively ignoring the stimuli): these cats measurably perked up when the last stimulus was their name. So I wonder why only some cats habituated?

Screenshot 2019-04-05 21.44.34

Buy the book!

4 04 2019



This is what we’ve been intermittently reading in our lab group for the last year or so, and it offers a great combination of GLM stats with experimental design with how science works (though I must admit I still skip all the R bits).

It’s so good in fact that I just wrote my first ever Amazon review for it!

Screenshot 2019-04-03 22.30.54

Sunbears copy each other’s facial expressions

24 03 2019

A new paper in Scientific Reports shows facial mimicry in sunbears. There’s much surprise that a naturally solitary carnivore would do this, which I don’t really get: pretty sure sociality is a primitive trait for Carnivora, and even if that’s not believed any more (I must have been taught this in about 1991!), sunbear cubs often have siblings. Anyway, nice write up in New Sci here.

Screenshot 2019-03-24 11.34.06

Mirror self-recognition in fish?

8 03 2019

Some weeks after it came out, I have just realised that a cool study was published in PloS Biology last month, apparently finding mirror self-recognition in cleaner wrasse (though see here for a beautifully written critique by Frans de Waal).

There’s a nice, balanced write up in Gizmodo here too (which also made me realise how little I know about slime moulds).


New research into ‘broken heart syndrome’

6 03 2019

There was a vague but intriguing report from the BBC today about CNS-mediated Screenshot 2019-03-05 19.03.15changes in heart shape (to something like a particular Japanese pot apparently), and also heart function, in stressed people:

The whole paper is here. Given the results, it would be fascinating to know whether these subjects also have impaired cardiac propioception too.