Cats and dogs aren’t the only pets fond of chasing things that run away from them. Aquarium fish do it too, as shown in our new peer-reviewed paper that came out just last week in the “Animals” journal! Out of 66 fish species observed, nearly 90% showed interest in or set out to chase moving laser pointed dots.
Another reason for pride is the fact that this research adds another layer of proof to what we’ve been saying all along: (neuro)science doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This particular experiment only requires a couple of things that many people already have: a fish tank with some inhabitants (the more, the merrier!) and a laser pointer or two. Incredibly easy to replicate in, say, your biology classroom!
Supriya isn’t new to being a state science fair laureate. Last year, this young fencer won the WSSEF award for measuring her muscles’ reaction time before and after warm-ups to improve her lunge performance.
This time around, she added the brain and heart into the equation, measuring her EEG, EKG and EMG with and without a 15-minute warm-up.
All vertebrate animals have hearts (and many invertebrates too), and many have EKGs that can be non-invasively recorded as commonly done in humans. We have fairly hairless bodies, so we can easily put sticker electrodes on our wrists or chests to record our EKG.
However, many of us share our households with furry four-legged creatures that bring us joy, companionship, humor, protection and pest control. Could we record their EKGs too? We know that the smaller the mammal, the faster the heart rate, but can we see this trend in our own pets, and in a way that minimally annoys our household friends? Yes we can. Ladies and gentlemen, the Dog and Cat EKG.
For our dog EKG investigations, we chose a two-year-old Vizsla dog named “Santina”, cared for by BYBer Florencia Edwards. This dog has very short hair and a gentle disposition, making it ideal for our pilot experiments. We modified our EEG headband by using tennis wristbands instead, inserting metal buttons into the wristbands (the buttons we find in jeans and wallets), and slipped them on her front two legs (signal electrodes), and one rear leg (ground).