Lindsey’s first slide

30 11 2019

Tutored by Peter Paletta in Elena’s lab, Lindsey’s learning how to stain and mount brain sections (the stain being for cytochrome oxidase: a marker of neuronal activation).  She describes her first slide as “garbage”; but honestly seeing this just made Aileen and I thrilled that this work really is starting!

LindsPresentation15ey’s going to be seeing if stereotypic behaviour’s predicted by a combination of basal ganglia and prefrontal cortex activity. And because the hippocampus will be obvious in her sections, Aileen’s going to use them too, to assess hippocampal volume as part of her interest in depression-like effects.

For the unwanted “lab meets kitchen fridge” photo collection

22 11 2019

IMG_2900Once again Fedex (who just had one job really) failed to to get a Multiplex kit successfully into the department (or to ring us, or anything useful like that). And once again there’s been a round trip drive to Cambridge to rescue it (this time by Aileen) and get it safely into a fridge, any fridge.

But anyway, farce and grumbling aside, the good news is that this is a free extra kit, very kindly supplied by Millipore as something was deemed probably wrong with the last one.  So now, hearts in our mouths, we’ll be trying again to see if cytokines are detectable in our mouse samples….

Emails of the week

22 11 2019

remote controlled mice?

I like the ‘chopped eels’ control – yes!

those fake rabbits for greyhound racing?

I’ll make you put little helmets on the mink!

Perhaps it’s just obvious, but me, Jamie and Becky are planning an experiment.

Skilled dissections underway…

20 11 2019

(Little) Emma won a bit of money from UFAW to follow up some of her thesis work.


So she has finally been squeezing some spare time away from her intense new job as a Guelph Humane Society inspector to dissect out organs from the mice we killed from the last cohort, and whose bodies we want to use to the max.

Here are the two tiny adrenals from one, and a heart. We want to know if highly stereotypic DBAs have cardiac hypertrophy, so watch this space…

Email of the week

10 11 2019

From Emma, who cleverly wooed an R PLGS mastermind into helping us by claiming I was “breathing down her neck” (hey, whatever works!).

Screenshot 2019-11-10 13.48.12

We’re trying to objectively assess the impact of highly influential species (e.g. the polar bear: often an extreme value) in our final analyses of the Carnivore Dataset. And after painfully rejecting solution after solution over the last few weeks, this finally looks like it could be the one….

Multiplex puzzle

10 11 2019

IMG_2687Aileen ran the long-awaited Multiplex immunoassay a couple of weeks ago. But results from our mice were disappointing: nothing much was detected. So … are even our “depressed” mice not very inflamed? Or was there something wrong with the test or the kit itself?

To try and figure this out, Jess stepped in with some UBC samples from LPS injected mice. Pro-inflammatory cytokines now could be picked up. But these samples, their dilutions, and something to do with the standard curve (I’ll defer heavily to Aileen and Jess here) revealed that IL-6, TNF-alpha, IL-10 and INF-gamma were still less detectable than we should have expected.

Now we’re corresponding with Millipore’s technical team to work out what to do next. Not too disheartened yet (my lab motto is: “if it was easy, someone would have done it already”). But the big question is: stick with Millipore knowing we’ll get a hell of a lot of zeros, or find a different technique?

Congrats to Lindsey!

10 11 2019

Lindsey’s Behavioural Processes paper (and first first-authored paper!) is now up online:

Screenshot 2019-11-10 10.39.54

Spoiler alert: the answer is no it doesn’t.

And from this we learned to not use this form of social learning again to assess demonstrator quality: it hinted at being useful once, but I now think it’s really too blunt an instrument.