Emily's fourth blog post from Japan- research and travels!
This past week was week 2 of touch training for both marmosets, Roy and Yann. Roy, my young fellow, learned each new step really quickly and by the end of the week, he had progressed through each step of training. We plan to introduce him to visual discrimination tests next, which I will explain in greater detail come week 5’s blog. Yann, on the other hand, hit a bit of a rough patch. One of the last steps before we can start testing is to train the marmosets to touch the small colored image as it is placed at random positions on the computer screen. Yann did not like this task very much. He would get confused and, as a result, would quickly refuse to participate. Therefore, we decided to create an intermediate step for him. In this step, the square would still move positions after each touch but it would move a much smaller distance from the center compared to the original task. Yann had no trouble learning this task and after a few days of successfully completing this step, we once again attempted the harder step and I am happy to report that he has now completed that step several times. However, to be safe, we plan to do a few more days of touch training with Yann before we move on to testing.
This week, there was also much to celebrate, as I had my first cup of coffee in 2 weeks. Now, if you know me then you know I quite like my cup of coffee in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon as well and maybe occasionally in the evening. So, going 2 weeks was rather difficult. Luckily, I was told that you can purchase coffee beans in the break room and make a cup of coffee. Now, here is where the problem lies, I’m sure most of us that make coffee in the U.S. have a coffee pot and some of us might be fancy enough to have a Keurig, however, neither of those things are in the break room. Instead, there is a coffee bean grinder, a glass pot, tea kettle, and glass filter. Thankfully, someone was willing to show me how to use all of these to produce a delicious cup of coffee.
So, along with diligently trying to train marmosets and work on my thesis, I also want to set some time aside to travel. Therefore, in order to celebrate the Fourth of July, two other graduate students and I decided to take a train to Nagoya. Now, Nagoya is a pretty big city and it is only a 35 minute train ride from Inuyama so it was an easy trip. Once in Nagoya, the first thing we wanted to see was the castle. The Nagoya castle that you are able to visit today is not the original as many of the original buildings were burnt down during WWII. The castle’s grounds are very large and the castle has been turned almost into a museum with many relics from that time period and the original castle on display. We were also able to walk through part of the Hommaru Palace though renovations are still on going. The palace was filled with beautiful murals.
After we had explored the grounds, we took a subway to Osu Kannon. There we visited Osu shopping street, which is more like several streets. The streets are all covered, so we no longer had to worry about the rain. The streets were lined with many shops. Some shops appeared to be common stores, such as a few clothing outlets, but many of the shops were very unique. We visited a tea shop and purchased that store’s specific blend of Japanese green tea. The owners were very nice and let us taste test the tea and even showed us how to properly brew our own cups of tea. The streets were also lined with many places to eat. For lunch, we decided to try a small okonomiyaki shop. Okonomiyaki can best be described as a loaded pancake; a pancake-like base filled with cabbage and a variety of meats and then topped with a sweet glaze. The restaurant was really small with a flat top grill in the center and a counter where costumers ate along the edges of the grill. We asked for the owner’s recommendation on which one to try and then, were able to watch as she made our food right in front of us. It was very good and very filling. After lunch, we continued to wander around the streets before finally deciding to head back to Inuyama.
Next week, we begin object discrimination tests for Roy and maybe, fingers crossed, Yann as well. We will also begin training two additional older marmosets.
See you next week!
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI) in collaboration with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).