Sweet, Honey!

One of the reasons Hagrid bought Harry Potter the owl Hedwig as a pet, over other pet choices, was the adeptness of the creature in delivering letters: “I’ll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they’re dead useful, carry yer mail an’ everythin’.” (Nostalgic, eh?)

Adapted from Uncyclopedia

The previous century saw birds, such as homing pigeons, successfully deliver letters during war and peace times. Plightful flights by homing pigeons during World Wars I and II helped save lives and relieve dire circumstances. In the 70s and 80s, English and French hospitals relied on pigeon post for transporting laboratory specimens.

Bird-human relationships date to ancient times. Few bonds last such a long time and yet, even today, this fascinating and complex relationship exists. Whereas the above instances involved tamed birds, wild birds are the heroes of the story below.

Continue reading “Sweet, Honey!”

Dazzle with a Duchenne (smile)

 

“Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.”

baby laughing
Picture from Pinterest

 

How often has your smile changed the world? Have you ever flashed this million-dollar curve to a complete stranger and see a relationship develop? And see a change in your “world”?

I was mulling over what to write. A smile from a complete stranger inspired this blog post and what fueled it were the smiles by hundreds of strangers from various backgrounds and ethnicity (I was attending an international competition* that’d attracted more than a thousand people from about 112 countries- and there are 196 countries in the world. This is when and how a smile brought a change in the world).

 

Smile 1

Continue reading “Dazzle with a Duchenne (smile)”

To obey or not to obey: the science of habits

Whether you rub your nose in a particular way when it feels itchy, or walk down from your home to the nearest convenience store (you know you can get there blindfolded), or you’re once again buying exactly the same perfume you’ve been buying for the last twenty years (you might call it brand loyalty but I call it a habit, in the context of this blog post), these are all some of our trusty old habits that don’t die. Don’t die easily, at the very least.

A habit is a behavior that’s learned and repeated so often that you perform it unconsciously. Without thinking about it. And while you do them mechanically, let’s zero in on some basic neurobiology facts there. Continue reading “To obey or not to obey: the science of habits”

Vocal Learning Behavior in Songbirds (And how this relates to humans)

Masters of songs, and inspiring the works of the literati and artists of the past as well as the present, songbirds are an intriguing species. Their mellifluous string of songs is what fascinated renowned poets such as Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley, and painters such as Imru Al Qays, Ren Yi, and George Baselitz to place the magnificent songbird into their works.

maxresdefault
A pair of songbirds perched on a branch amidst flowers. Adapted from Youtube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIL-rb2l5S1)

This blog post aims to briefly shed light on the vocal learning behavior in songbirds, with a slight emphasis on the importance of the neurotransmitter dopamine, in vocal processing.

More than four thousand species of songbirds, almost fifty percent of the bird species, entertain human ears around the world with their unique melodious songs (Innovateus, n.d). They include Nightingales, Mockbirds, Musk Duck, Bengalese finches, American robins, Eastern bluebirds, Northern cardinals, to name but a few. Songbirds inhabit a diverse range of areas, encompassing open fields, woodlands, and other terrestrial habitats, as well as vegetated wetlands and shores.  Continue reading “Vocal Learning Behavior in Songbirds (And how this relates to humans)”