Just like the lengendary male model who fought to valiantly to become an ambi-turner, cockroaches prefer not to turn left.
Researchers say it’s a safe bet that the roaches don’t have Zoolander’s mental block. Instead, they believe that the right-turn bias shown by the creepy-crawly insects indicates that most roaches favor their right side, just as most humans are right-handed.
For the study, published in the Journal of Insect Behavior, researchers released the roaches into a Y-shaped tube, enticing them forward to the fork in the road with odors of vanilla and ethanol. ScienceNOW explains what happened next:
Cockroaches with intact antennae preferred the tube’s right fork 57% of the time. This right-side bias persisted even after the scientists chopped off one of the bugs’ sensitive antennae, used to sense touch and smells.
This finding adds to the evidence that many animals show a side-preference akin to human handedness; for example, one study showed horses to be predominantly right-hoofed.
Meanwhile, maybe homeowners battling roach infestations can exploit our new understanding of these right-legged cockroaches, and strategically place roach traps to the right of suspicious cracks and holes.
Discoblog: Psychology’s New Phobia-Fighting Tool: An Augmented Reality Cockroach
Discoblog: Small Comfort: Cockroaches, Too, Get Fat on an Unbalanced Diet
80beats: Cockroaches Have Super Antibiotics in Their Brains; We Must Steal Them
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Image: Texas A&M University / Hong Liang
Welcome to augmented reality psychology. The cockroach in the Tupperware is only in your mind–or your virtual reality goggles–and is part of an exposure therapy technique meant to treat those with extreme phobias.
Though traditional exposure therapy might require a person afraid of elevators to ride one repeatedly, or demand that a person afraid of cockroaches meet one face to bug-eyed face, the mere prospect of such experiences is enough to drive some patients out of therapy.
But perhaps, as described in a small study in Behavior Therapy, an augmented reality cockroach can provide all of the benefits without the ick.
A pair of genetic sleuths from New York City’s Trinity high school discovered a bit of food foul play. Seniors Matt Cost and Brenda Tan collected DNA samples from items around their homes and school, sequenced the fragments and analyzed them with a publicly available database, and found there is little truth in advertising, according to Cosmic Log:
The real detective work came into play when [they] matched the DNA code against a couple of publicly available databases for animal species. They found out that an expensive brand of sheep’s-milk cheese was actually made from cow’s milk, that “sturgeon caviar” was actually Mississippi paddlefish, and that dog treats supposedly made from venison were actually made from beef.
We already knew that a diet based on junk food is bad for people and crows. Now a study shows that the health of cockroaches also suffers when the critters eat an unbalanced diet.
In fact, roaches fed a poor-quality diet matured more slowly and were fatter than those fed a well-balanced one. Females who ate badly also were less willing to mate than their well-nourished peers. LiveScience reports:
[Researchers] picked young female cockroach nymphs and divided them into two dietary groups. Half were fed a good-quality balanced diet of protein-rich fish food and high-carbohydrate oatmeal, while the rest were raised on fish food only. Both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted….When the nymphs became adults, the team switched the diets of some animals.
Half of the cockroaches raised with good quality diet lost their oatmeal, while half of the bugs fed poorly were promoted to a good-quality diet. Eighteen days after the switch, the diet control ended and some of the surviving cockroaches were dissected. The effects of unbalanced meals continued throughout the cockroaches’ lives, even for the few that were switched to good-quality food.
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