researcher
John Marzluff

John Marzluff

Professor, University of Washington

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Jake, yo bro, THANKS. Jennifer thanks for passing the word!
Apr 28, 2014
Crow funerals: What are they thinking about?
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Thanks Mike, I'm with you concerning ravens. Crows are a handy model to start with and comparison with ravens would be really fantastic. John
Apr 25, 2014
Crow funerals: What are they thinking about?
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Alex as Kaeli described, the main advantage of PET over MRI is that PET does not require the bird to be immobile during the behavioral trial. Dogs have been trained to sit still in an MRI and be scanned as they hear things, but wild animals won't do that! PET allows us to let the bird do its thing, unencumbered, and then reveals to us what the brain was doing at that time. Its pretty slick that way!
Apr 24, 2014
Crow funerals: What are they thinking about?
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Tom, that is always a concern and certainly it is hard to believe that the procedure affects the crow's mental state somewhat. We try to control for this as much as possible by comparing the brain activation when the presumed dead crow is visible to the activation present when everything else but the dead crow is visible. That is, we also monitor brain activity when the bird has been handled and is in the experimental room to understand if the procedure affects the crow. Interestingly, in our earlier experiments we have shown that the crow's brain activity is not consistent with a fear response under these control situations, so we think the birds' brain actions are primarily in response to the stimulus not the basic handling involved in the procedure. As for the bear, well if you will give them the tracer, we can find a really big scanner:) John
Mar 31, 2014
Crow funerals: What are they thinking about?
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Oscar, great question. The cool thing about the scanning procedure we use (PET scanning, which is commonly used on other animals including people) is that it allows us to get a look into the action of the bird's brain while it is behaving PRIOR to our scanning. We use a tracer that is metabolized while a behavior is being performed and then we scan for the buildup of that tracer in the brain after the behavior is done and when the bird is anesthetized. There can still be other things that motivate the bird, but we have controls to try and weed those out. For example, we compare brain activity while the bird looks at the room versus while it looks at the same room when a dead bird is present. It is not perfect, for sure, but it rules out a lot of possible confounding factors. Best of all, when we are done, the bird can be released back into the wild. John
Mar 31, 2014
Crow funerals: What are they thinking about?
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