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Charlie's Animal Research Project -- status update

Richard Vickery Richard.Vickery at unsw.edu.au
Wed Aug 13 09:26:17 EST 2003

Charlie Wilkes wrote:

> My experiment design is as follows:
> 1.  I will observe cats under the natural stress conditions of the
> shelter and identify specific behaviors indicating stress.  Repetitive
> mewing and clawing at the cage are the two that come to mind, but I
> haven't started observing yet.
> 2.  I will put the DDR in the cage with some cats who appear uneasy in
> captivity and leave it off, and tape a 4-8 hour segment.  I won't be
> there physically, which is why I bought the nannycam.
> 3.  I will turn the DDR on, and operate it according to instructions,
> and will attempt to videotape as much of the first 24-48 hours as
> possible.
> 4.  I will analyze my tape data and attempt to quantify changes in
> behavior by counting incidents of behavior that I have determined to
> be my stress indicators.
> I'm planning to use subjects who will be in the same area for a few
> days and will not interact with them.
> This is ultra-simple, because I don't know anything about doing
> research.  So, I'd appreciate comments from all you neuro-wizards out
> there in scienceland.

Charlie, a few changes would improve the study significantly.

1.  You need some controls - cats in which you put the unit in the 
cage, but never switch it on, but still record the 24-48 hours as 

2.  The study needs to be done blind.  Have the woman at the shelter 
select which cages will be control and which ones test (flip a coin 
or use some other random method to choose from your pool of 
pre-identified subjects).  She should write this down but not reveal 
it to you until the study is complete.  You now score the tape data 
without knowing the state of each animal as test or control.  At the 
end you put your data together with the information about what group 
each cat was in.

Hope this helps.

best wishes

Richard Vickery

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