Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: The Animals


A brain-to-brain interface (BTBI) enabled a real-time transfer of behaviorally meaningful sensorimotor information between the brains of two rats. In this BTBI, an “encoder” rat performed sensorimotor tasks that required it to select from two choices of tactile or visual stimuli. While the encoder rat performed the task, samples of its cortical activity were transmitted to matching cortical areas of a “decoder” rat using intracortical microstimulation (ICMS). The decoder rat learned to make similar behavioral selections, guided solely by the information provided by the encoder rat’s brain. These results demonstrated that a complex system was formed by coupling the animals' brains, suggesting that BTBIs can enable dyads or networks of animal’s brains to exchange, process, and store information and, hence, serve as the basis for studies of novel types of social interaction and for biological computing devices.

Concepts: Brain, Cerebral cortex, Emergence, Visual perception, The Animals, Activity, Behavior, Task


Blood samples were collected opportunistically at routine post mortem examination from 199 sheep which came from 152 flocks. The location of each submitting flock was mapped. Sera were tested using a goose blood haemagglutination inhibition assay for louping ill virus. There was an animal level prevalence of 8.5 %, and a flock level prevalence of 9.8 %. The greatest proportion of seropositive animals was identified among the animals older than 24 months of age. The elevation of the land associated with positive flocks was greater than that of negative flocks. Lesions of non-suppurative meningoencephalitis were observed in three of the 199 animals.

Concepts: Protein, Animal, Bird, The Animals, North, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Eric Burdon, Louping ill


Our recent report detailing the health status of cloned sheep concluded that the animals had aged normally. This is in stark contrast to reports on Dolly (first animal cloned from adult cells) whose diagnoses of osteoarthritis (OA) at 5½ years of age led to considerable scientific concern and media debate over the possibility of early-onset age-related diseases in cloned animals. Our study included four 8-year old ewes derived from the cell line that gave rise to Dolly, yet none of our aged sheep showed clinical signs of OA, and they had radiographic evidence of only mild or, in one case, moderate OA. Given that the only formal record of OA in Dolly is a brief mention of a single joint in a conference abstract, this led us to question whether the original concerns about Dolly’s OA were justified. As none of the original clinical or radiographic records were preserved, we undertook radiographic examination of the skeletons of Dolly and her contemporary clones. We report a prevalence and distribution of radiographic-OA similar to that observed in naturally conceived sheep, and our healthy aged cloned sheep. We conclude that the original concerns that cloning had caused early-onset OA in Dolly were unfounded.

Concepts: Death, The Animals, Ageing, Cloning, Domestic sheep, Human cloning, Dolly, Nuclear transfer


Anxiety-related disorders are frequently observed in the population. Because the available pharmacotherapies for anxiety can cause side effects, new anxiolytic compounds have been screened using behavioral tasks. For example, diphenyl diselenide (PhSe)2, a simple organoselenium compound with neuroprotective effects, has demonstrated anxiolytic effects in rodents. However, this compound has not yet been tested in a novelty-based paradigm in non-mammalian animal models. In this study, we assessed the potential anxiolytic effects of (PhSe)2 on the behavior of adult zebrafish under novelty-induced stress. The animals were pretreated with 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, and 1μM (PhSe)2 in the aquarium water for 30min. The fish were then exposed to a novel tank, and their behavior was quantified during a 6-min trial. (PhSe)2 treatment altered fish behavior in a concentration-dependent manner. At 0.01 and 0.25μM, (PhSe)2 did not elicit effects on fish behavior. At 0.5μM, moderate behavioral side effects (e.g., lethargy and short episodic immobility) were noted. At the highest concentration tested (1μM), dramatic side effects were observed, such as burst behavior and longer periods of immobility. The results were confirmed by spatiotemporal analysis of each group. Occupancy plot data showed dispersed homebase formation in the 0.25μM (PhSe)2-treated group compared with the control group (treated with 0.04% DMSO). Furthermore, animals treated with 0.25μM (PhSe)2showed a reduction in latency to enter the top and spent more time in the upper area of the tank. These data suggest that (PhSe)2 may induce an anxiolytic-like effect in situations of anxiety evoked by novelty.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Fish, Animal, The Animals, Aquarium, Selenium compounds, Anxiolytic


Amyloid beta (Aβ) induced neuronal death has been linked to memory loss, perhaps the most devastating symptom of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Although Aβ-induced impairment of synaptic or intrinsic plasticity is known to occur before any cell death, the links between these neurophysiological changes and the loss of specific types of behavioral memory are not fully understood. Here we used a behaviorally and physiologically tractable animal model to investigate Aβ-induced memory loss and electrophysiological changes in the absence of neuronal death in a defined network underlying associative memory. We found similar behavioral but different neurophysiological effects for Aβ 25-35 and Aβ 1-42 in the feeding circuitry of the snail Lymnaea stagnalis. Importantly, we also established that both the behavioral and neuronal effects were dependent upon the animals having been classically conditioned prior to treatment, since Aβ application before training caused neither memory impairment nor underlying neuronal changes over a comparable period of time following treatment.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Time, Disease, Neuroscience, The Animals, Beta amyloid, Lymnaea stagnalis, Memory loss


Stockmanship is a term used to describe the management of animals with a good stockperson someone who does this in a in a safe, effective, and low-stress manner for both the stock-keeper and animals involved. Although impacts of unfamiliar zoo visitors on animal behaviour have been extensively studied, the impact of stockmanship i.e familiar zoo keepers is a new area of research; which could reveal significant ramifications for zoo animal behaviour and welfare. It is likely that different relationships are formed dependant on the unique keeper-animal dyad (human-animal interaction, HAI). The aims of this study were to (1) investigate if unique keeper-animal dyads were formed in zoos, (2) determine whether keepers differed in their interactions towards animals regarding their attitude, animal knowledge and experience and (3) explore what factors affect keeper-animal dyads and ultimately influence animal behaviour and welfare. Eight black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), eleven Chapman’s zebra (Equus burchellii), and twelve Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra) were studied in 6 zoos across the UK and USA. Subtle cues and commands directed by keepers towards animals were identified. The animals latency to respond and the respective behavioural response (cue-response) was recorded per keeper-animal dyad (n = 93). A questionnaire was constructed following a five-point Likert Scale design to record keeper demographic information and assess the job satisfaction of keepers, their attitude towards the animals and their perceived relationship with them. There was a significant difference in the animals' latency to appropriately respond after cues and commands from different keepers, indicating unique keeper-animal dyads were formed. Stockmanship style was also different between keepers; two main components contributed equally towards this: “attitude towards the animals” and “knowledge and experience of the animals”. In this novel study, data demonstrated unique dyads were formed between keepers and zoo animals, which influenced animal behaviour.

Concepts: Psychology, The Animals, Extinction, Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, Zoo, Eastern Black Rhinoceros


All moving animals, including flies [1-3], sharks [4], and humans [5], experience a dynamic sensory landscape that is a function of both their trajectory through space and the distribution of stimuli in the environment. This is particularly apparent for mosquitoes, which use a combination of olfactory, visual, and thermal cues to locate hosts [6-10]. Mosquitoes are thought to detect suitable hosts by the presence of a sparse CO2 plume, which they track by surging upwind and casting crosswind [11]. Upon approach, local cues such as heat and skin volatiles help them identify a landing site [12-15]. Recent evidence suggests that thermal attraction is gated by the presence of CO2 [6], although this conclusion was based experiments in which the actual flight trajectories of the animals were unknown and visual cues were not studied. Using a three-dimensional tracking system, we show that rather than gating heat sensing, the detection of CO2 actually activates a strong attraction to visual features. This visual reflex guides the mosquitoes to potential hosts where they are close enough to detect thermal cues. By experimentally decoupling the olfactory, visual, and thermal cues, we show that the motor reactions to these stimuli are independently controlled. Given that humans become visible to mosquitoes at a distance of 5-15 m [16], visual cues play a critical intermediate role in host localization by coupling long-range plume tracking to behaviors that require short-range cues. Rather than direct neural coupling, the separate sensory-motor reflexes are linked as a result of the interaction between the animal’s reactions and the spatial structure of the stimuli in the environment.

Concepts: Nervous system, Natural environment, Heat, The Animals, Force, Tracking, Tracking system, Plume


Restraint in animals is known to cause stress but is used during almost all scientific procedures in rodents, representing a major welfare and scientific issue. Administration of substances, a key part of most scientific procedures, almost always involves physical restraint of the animal. In this study, we developed a method to inject substances to rats using a non-restrained technique. We then compared the physiological, behavioral and emotional impacts of restrained versus non-restrained injection procedures. Our results highlight the negative welfare implications associated with physical restraint and demonstrate a method which can be used to avoid this. Our work shows how adopting strategies that avoid restraint can minimize a widespread source of stress in laboratory animals and improve welfare through refinement.

Concepts: Scientific method, Biology, Epistemology, Animal, Developed country, The Animals, Key signature, Medical restraint


This study investigated whether close friends affect each other’s fear responses (fear beliefs and avoidance) when they discuss fear-related issues together. Children (N = 242) aged 7-10 years were first presented with ambiguous and threatening information about two novel animals respectively, after which their fear responses towards each animal were assessed (T1). Next, dyads of close friends had a discussion about their feelings regarding the animals, and their fear responses were measured again (T2). Results showed that children influenced each other’s cognitions following the discussion; from T1 to T2 their fear responses became more similar and close friends' fear responses at T1 significantly predicted children’s fear responses at T2. Gender pair type predicted change in children’s fear responses over time. Children in boy-boy pairs showed a significant increase in fear responses following the discussion; their fear level became more in line with that of other gender pairs at T2, while those in girl-girl pairs showed a significant decrease in their fear beliefs, at least when threatening information was given. Differences in anxiety level between close friends did not affect change in fear responses over time. Altogether, the results indicate that children may affect each other’s fears.

Concepts: Anxiety, The Animals, Anxiety disorder, Fear, Social anxiety, Paranoia, Emotions, Type theory


Many biomedical research studies use captive animals to model human health and disease. However, a surprising number of studies show that the biological systems of animals living in standard laboratory housing are abnormal. To make animal studies more relevant to human health, the animals should live in the wild or be able to roam free in captive environments that offer a natural range of both positive and negative experiences. Recent technological advances now allow us to study freely roaming animals and we should make use of them.

Concepts: Medicine, Health, Epidemiology, Disease, Human, Demography, Natural environment, The Animals