Monday January 20, 2020

A New Method To Track Rats, Researchers Suggest

Researchers have found that rats can be baited to or repelled from locations using pheromones found in the scents of other rats

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A rat caught in a rat trap. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have found that rats can be baited to or repelled from locations using pheromones found in the scents of other rats.

Rats cost the world’s economy more than $300 billion a year. In addition to causing fines and business closures, rats spread disease, start fires and disable motor vehicles.

For the study published in The Journal of Urban Ecology, over a one year period researchers trapped and implanted microchips in city rats in a waste recycling centre in Brooklyn, New York.

“If we can pinpoint the scents and contexts that are most useful, then we increase our chances of creating novel control tools, but further research is needed under a broad range of conditions,” said study researchers from Fordham University, Columbia University and Arrow Exterminators Inc.

To overcome issues in using GPS to track movement in dense urban environments, they utilised radio-frequency identification sensors.

Rats, Tracking, Research, Disease
Rats cost the world’s economy more than $300 billion a year. In addition to causing fines and business closures, rats spread disease, start fires and disable motor vehicles. Wikimedia Commons

Male and female scents were then placed on, or near, these sensors and replaced every two weeks.

To determine whether risk impacted the findings, the research team positioned these devices in sheltered, safe areas that rats were familiar with and also in more risky, open environments where rats were vulnerable to predation.

According to the study, rats reacted differently to male and female scents.

In general, when rats responded to sensors with male scents, risk was unimportant. Rats briefly visited male scents equally in exposed and sheltered areas, and then stayed away.

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Female scents, however, were visited significantly more often than male scents (0.2 visits/day compared to 5.02 visits/day).

This implies that attractants may be more useful near sheltered areas while deterrent scents may be more useful in exposed areas where animals are vulnerable to predators.

These findings address a knowledge gap about rat scent preference that could assist in urban wildlife management tools, such as the deployment of baits or immuno-contraceptives. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Develop AI Tool To Detect Mental Health Issues

Tracking changes in clinical states is important to detect if there is a change that shows whether the condition has improved or worsened that would warrant the need for changing treatment

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The USC Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL), which has long applied artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify and classify video, audio and physiological data, partnered with researchers to analyse voice data from patients being treated for serious mental illnesses. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can accurately detect changes in clinical states in voice data of patients with bipolar, schizophrenia and depressive disorders as accurately as attending doctors.

“Machine learning allowed us to illuminate the various clinically-meaningful dimensions of language use and vocal patterns of the patients over time and personalised at each individual level,” said Indian-origin researcher and study senior author Shri Narayanan from University of Southern California (USC) in the US.

The USC Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL), which has long applied artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify and classify video, audio and physiological data, partnered with researchers to analyse voice data from patients being treated for serious mental illnesses.

For the results, the researchers used the ‘MyCoachConnect’ interactive voice and mobile tool, created and hosted on the Chorus platform to provide voice diaries related to their mental health states.

SAIL team then collaborated with researchers to apply artificial intelligence to listen to hundreds of voicemails using custom software to detect changes in patients’ clinical states. According to the study, the AI was able to match clinicians’ ratings of their patients.

Tracking changes in clinical states is important to detect if there is a change that shows whether the condition has improved or worsened that would warrant the need for changing treatment, the researchers said.

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Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can accurately detect changes in clinical states in voice data of patients with bipolar, schizophrenia and depressive disorders as accurately as attending doctors. Pixabay

This project builds on SAIL’s body of work in behavioural machine intelligence to analyse psychotherapy sessions to detect empathy of addiction counselors-in-training in order to improve their chances of better outcomes, in addition to the Lab’s work analysing language for cognitive diagnoses and legal processes.

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“Our approach builds on that fundamental technique to hear what people are saying about using the modern AI. We hope this will help us better understand how our patients are doing and transform mental health care to be more personalised and proactive to what an individual needs,” said study lead author Armen Arevian. (IANS)