A cleverness of ravens

21 07 2017

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

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/ravens-problem-solving-smart-birds/





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: https://www.livescience.com/12891-natural-sleep.html

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:

https://www.livescience.com/12891-natural-sleep.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40568997

 

 





Cows will work hard to roam on pasture

8 07 2017

Missed this when it came out! Lovely ‘max price paid’ work from Nina & Dan at UBC:

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep44953

Screenshot 2017-07-08 09.24.42

 

 





The semi-domestication of cats

21 06 2017

Nice article based on a new paper, with thanks to Jamie for this find.

Screenshot 2017-06-21 08.23.20





Bottom-watching: a sign of intelligence?

19 04 2017

Screenshot 2017-04-07 11.27.05

A couple of weeks ago the GTA Animal Cognition Reading Group met to discuss new work on mirror self-recognition, led by Noam Miller. Despite my love of this group I could not go due to piles of undone marking (going to Toronto can be a 3 hour round trip, sometimes more).

I did read the articles though: a nice compromise. A box by Sara Shettleworth, featuring her usual crisp logic, argued that mirror self-recognition is no more a sign of self-awareness than brachiation (or any task where an animal displays a fine appreciation of where all its bodyparts are).  And this was somewhat echoed by the main paper of focus: research in PNAS by Chang and colleagues, in which rhesus monkeys were trained to use mirrors.  This paper convincingly showed that monkeys can learn to understand that reflections are salient, and even that the image in it is somehow themselves. But since this only emerged through extensive training, it’s hard to know what (if anything) this really says about the abilities of other species: is some kind of intelligent self-awareness really revealed by using a mirror to inspect your bottom?





The cerebellum: not just about playing the piano

10 04 2017

The textbook view of the cerebellum used to be that it coordinates the production of skilled, rapid motor sequences. But in recent years its cognitive function have started to be elucidated (and living with a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, I can definitively say it’s not just his coordination is off: Luke is the most strong-willed being I have ever met …); and now (Ok a few weeks ago) its role in reward learning and expectancy has finally been demonstrated in a study in Nature (see here for a write up).

Screenshot 2017-04-10 19.22.05