General and Biological Psychology: Emotion and Oscillation Lab


Reptiles are among the oldest animals featuring a layered cortex. Their cortex is simpler than the neocortex of mammals, featuring only three instead of six layers. It seems, however, to be highly functional: the three-layered archicortex has been preserved in form of the hippocampus, a central building block in mammalian cognition.
Anolis carolinensis naturally inhabits deciduous woodlands of the south-eastern parts of the United States. A. carolinensis is an agile and active forager, and it is able to change color depending on mood. So far, it is the only reptile with a completely sequenced genome. 

Anolis Carolinensis
(c) Wikipedia                                                                                 Click on evolution map to enlarge

Anolis CarolinensisOrganisms Lab high

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Housing and experimental unit

We have built a dedicated housing and experimental unit for anoles. It is currently appropriate for housing of up to ten anoles but can easily be extended to house 50 animals. We have established our own breeding of food animals (grasshoppers and mealworms). Animals are kept in an enriched environment. Their terrarium is furnished with living plants and bark pieces to mimic their natural environment.

Adjacent to the terrarium we have installed experimental boxes (see picture of the boxes below). They can be attached or detached from the terrarium, with a shutter controlling the access of the boxes for the reptiles.



Analysis per video software

Our video software extracts tracking data of our anoles from videos. We can automatically determine position, path of movement, color changes, chest width (left panel) and respiration rate (right panel) of our anoles. Note the rapid rise in respiration rate following T=46 (red line), which marks the start of a chase for prey.

chest widthrespiratory rate



We started experiments for auditory conditioning. The animals are trained to enter the experimental box by associating a random sine tone pattern with food.

We plan to test the ability of the anoles to solve problems, giving them a hard task to get some especially delicious food, and to take decisions based on a weighing up of risks and benefits.

Anolis solving the problem of an unstable food bowl.