Monthly Archives: November 2014

How drool changed science forever

This fantastic article reviews a new biography of Ivan Pavlov, known for making dogs drool at the sound of a metronome (NOT A BELL!).  What we know about his study of physiology, what happened after he got his Nobel prize, and what drool can tell us about human psychology. Read all about it!

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A closer look at the map behind cognitive maps and free speech for faculty

Edward Tolman is the man they named the Psych building for at UC Berkeley - but do you know about his contributions to the field of animal cognition? Or how he stood up for free speech in the age of McCarthyism? I wrote about him at the Berkeley Science Review!

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Does Animal Assisted Therapy Work? 

It might seem intuitive to animal lovers that being with animals would be a good thing, and that is what much of the research on animal assisted therapy suggests. The problem is that these studies are fraught with problems (such as lack of controls and small sample sizes) that make it hard to trust the results. Perhaps the field needs some outreach on experimental design?? Hal Herzog tells us what's up here.

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My goal as a cat behavior consultant is to further people’s understanding of their cats – inside and out! Many of the calls for help we get are to help clients whose cats are experiencing litterbox avoidance. Sometimes the reasons are obvious. Other times I’m on a housecall for an unrelated problem, and I see some things going on in (or out of) the litterbox that I wish weren’t happening.

First of all, there is a good reason to have a litterbox for your cat (even if your cat goes outside) and clean the box daily (even if you don’t want to): your cat’s “output”, so to speak, is a key to their health. Cats are notorious for hiding pain, and sometimes what you can find in the litterbox is the first sign of illness. But it’s also important to know, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR WHEN YOU’RE SCOOPING ANYWAY? I’m here to help you out.

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Stress makes birds friendlier

Feeding corticosterone (a stress hormone) to zebra finches had the opposite effect of what scientists expected - it made the birds MORE social, but those "friendships" were more fleeting than those exhibited by control birds, who spent more time with family and closer friends. Read more about the recently published study here.

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You got your squirrel in my pumpkin…

Squirrels and Halloween go together like chocolate and peanut butter. I remember the first year we put out a jack-o-lantern, only to find tiny nibbles and bits of pumpkin all over our porch. Great! Well, Halloween was just a few days ago, so it’s not too late to look at some squirrel-related Halloween stories.

Squirrels ruined over $100 worth of pumpkins in this guy’s yard ($100 in pumpkins? Really?)

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What happens when you let the squirrel carve the pumpkin?

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And yes, squirrels are naïve enough to stick their head in a pumpkin for cute photos

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