Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cheating The System

OK this is too good not to share. It turns out that some of my lemurs have learned that the payout for paying attention and complete a task correctly for a food reward is too much of a hassle. Instead, using their primate ingenuity, they have devised a fail safe plan. What are they doing?

They have started putting their hands on the middle of the screen or on one side of the screen and just stares at the chute. You see, the trials run automatically, and when they just leave their hands in that position, they either hit the correct or incorrect stimulus. As the trials cycle through, food reward will drop down at about 50% chance (at random). So, instead of paying attention to the task, the lemurs are just hoping they would by chance touch the correct stimulus. There is also one lemur that would continuously smash its hand all over the tablet non stop, hoping by chance it would hit the correct stimulus. Picture someone smashing all the buttons in an arcade machine ...

Well, one more UI update on SMARTA coming up this weekend so I can train them to correctly do the discrimination task.

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's That Story You've Been Waiting For ...

Inexplicably, every single student that went out to collect data has a "I was collecting data and I got sick" story. Well here you go. This is that story you have been waiting for from me. I got sick this weekend.

I felt a bit lethargic and immediately knew that something is wrong. As the day progresses, my temperature started to shoot up and I felt feverish. I was afraid those nasty skeeter (mosquito) bites had given me whatever disease they carried. I was also wondering if I got a sunburn and that's why my body is heating up. Blah blah blah I felt feverish over the weekend and OH MY GOD NORTH CAROLINA YOUR SUMMER IS HOTTER THAN THE SUN!

Finally my fever had subsided today after 3 days. I didn't go in to the lemur center because I was so lethargic that I couldn't wake up. Good thing my puppy was crate trained and I had mustered whatever energy I had to walk her for a few minutes in the morning before I go back to sleep. I also didn't want to pass out from the heat and humidity so I took a day off to recuperate.

I still didn't know what caused the fever. I'd like to think that I got something from these nasty skeeters but it's probably a sunburn ...

P/S - I did went out on Sunday for brunch with my friend Tara and our dog's play date. I figured if I passed out, someone is around. LOL

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

No Posts This Week; Spending Time With My Daughter Instead

Sorry, no posts this week ... sorta. I'm spending quality time with my daughter, Luna Bella Princess Vagell Cupcake. I'll be back next week when Luna goes back to her foster mama's home. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of hers ...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Day 5 & The Weekend

On Friday, I had a relatively short session and worked with only 3 individuals. At the end of the session, I made a conscious decision to omit one of the group in the study. This has been cumulatively about 3 months working with this group and there was no improvements. Individuals continue to ignore or growl at SMARTA, and not have the initiative to interact with the apparatus.

Over the weekend, my friend Jen brought my puppy back to me so she can spend a week with her Papa. Luna, or as she's called in her foster home, Luna Bella Princess Vagell Cupcake is about 4 months old and is a Pomeranian Chihuahua (Pomchi) mix. I have written about her a few months back on this blog and I am very grateful that my friend Jen is fostering her while I ping pong between states.

We went shopping. ALL THE DOG TREATS!!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Day 4: Moving Right Along

Because some of my lemurs needed to be indoors around 10 AM today, I was able to worked with 3 groups. Generally, when I am done with 2 groups, it is almost noon and that's when I have to end my research. Today however, I worked with individuals that had progressed the furthest in that 3 groups. I was able to run testing sessions with 4 individuals today and trained 2 to target. The other 3 individuals were omitted from my study today because their progress is the slowest. Admittedly, most of these individuals that are on the testing session have not learned to target the red stimulus for a food reward. Instead, they have only learned that they need to touch the screen (or any square) for a food reward. This is the phase when the lemurs will eventually have an AHA! moment and realized that they will only get a food reward for touching the red stimulus. This study is progressing in a good pace. I expect most, if not all of my lemurs will be moving on testing phase by the end of this month and I should wrap up my data collection either mid or end of September.

Also, have I mentioned it's HOT HOT HOT!!!

Black church ladies be like ...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Day 3: On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

The lemurs are definitely progressing with the training sessions but now the difference is how advanced they are (when are they ready to do testing) as opposed to whether they are engaging SMARTA. Almost all individuals are engaging SMARTA in various degrees. There are, however, some individuals that want absolutely nothing to do with SMARTA. I might have to take them out from the study.

Also, some of these lemurs are craftier than others; some individuals have figured out to just leave one hand on the target during the whole duration of the training session while having the other hand on the chute eagerly awaiting the dispensing sweet morsel. Ha!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day 2: Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Yes, I know I'm not supposed to hold my camera like this but that's the best I can do to show you everything. Don't judge.

It is extremely hot and humid right now in North Carolina, I mean like ... REALLY hot and humid today. I'm not sure if I am having hot flashes (I don't think I have those) but I was sweating profusely and before it was 10 AM, I was already soaking wet. Ugh. And to think that I was wearing short shorts and loose fitting shirt to stop myself from sweating so much. By the end of the day, I was completely soaked in sweat and I looked like I feel into a lake.

Obligatory sweaty selfie.

After my research session today, I went to Southern Season to replenish my food rewards for the lemurs. Right now, I have moved from using dried cranberries into raisins because the store kept not stocking them. Or if they do, in small containers instead of the large ones that I need (I usually buy 3 large containers that would last me about a month).  

Monkey enjoying an American mini scone.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Duke Lemur Center: Day 1 (This Feels Like Déjà vu)

Monkey enjoyed himself at Duke Lemur Center today and is glad he can be my research assistant for awhile.

Started my first day at the Duke Lemur Center early but halfway through my sessions I got a very nasty headache (I think it's a migraine) so had to leave early. Got to work with only 3 lemurs but excited to noticed that one of the female, Kizzy, is now targeting the red stimulus. I think she is ready for testing sessions.

Got news that two of the lemurs that I briefly worked with are being transferred to another facility but there will be new individuals coming to DLC in place of them. I guess it's good that I didn't spend weeks training them only to have them go away.

Hopefully tomorrow is a bit more productive and I hope to start running testing sessions by the end of the week with the two females!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Raymond's Back, Alright!

I flew back to Durham yesterday and spent the weekend orientating myself and getting ready to go back to Duke Lemur Center on Monday. My research assistant, Stephanie, finished her term with me last week. I will be working alone once again, but I hope to find another research assistant soon.

My trip back to NYC was fun and I needed some time to spend with my husband and cats. During my stay in NYC, I also went to London with my friends and had a wonderful time.

More to write about when I go back to Duke Lemur Center but in the meantime, say hi to my new friend, Monkey.