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Animals Get The Giggles Too

"Tickled rats emit supersonic chirps. Chimpanzees pant during play. These expressions of animal joy, according to a new study, demonstrate that laughter evolved very early in the mammalian brain. In 2003, Jaak Panksepp of Bowling Green State University, Ohio, reported that rats let out squeaks of joy when tickled by human fingers. The rats not only tried to elicit play sessions, but also began chirping when their handlers wiggled fingers at them. Panksepp likened the response to children who begin giggling even before a tickling finger touches them. The fact that both rats and humans emit sounds of joy, Panksepp reports in the journal Science, suggests the brain circuits involved in laughter are very ancient. The last common ancestor of rats and primates lived about 75 million years ago. Human laughter certainly appears similar to the giggles of romping chimps, who make pant-pant sounds that imitate the heavy breathing of exercise." (California Wild This Week)

Clicker-trained seizure alert dog offers hope of independence

Seizure alert dog offers hope of independence:

When Gracie picks up on the smell, largely imperceptible to humans, that Lindsay gives off before she seizes, the dog is to pull the cord on a small alarm that Lindsay wears on a belt. That's the signal for Lindsay to sit or lie down so that she won't hurt herself during a fall, and for adults nearby who hear the alarm to come to her aid. When Lindsay comes to, she snaps a metal clicker and gives Gracie doggie treats from the pink fanny pack she wears all the time - the signal, in dog language, that Gracie did a good job that she should repeat next time.

Preview: Clicker Training Events Calendar

We're pleased to announce a sneak preview of our new Clicker Training Events Calendar, a searchable database of clicker training and TAGteaching events where you can post your own events for free, or find events near you at any time.

Interesting new research on operant conditioning

These are abstracts of recent studies on applied behavior and the neurologic impact of positive reinforcement training. Especially interesting to see that the stress hormones of lab animals trained with forceful or punitive methods skew research results. Positive reinforcement training not only makes it easier to work with and care for the animals, but keeps test results clean from physiologic stress.