For this BEN Pro Webinar we are thrilled to welcome fellow BEN member and our colleague Dr. Mindy Waite. We met Dr. Waite at one of our IFAAB (Interdisciplinary Forum in Applied Animal Behavior) invitation-only meetings and have been intrigued by her presentations. We were sure you would be too, and we were excited when she agreed to present this webinar. The webinar description is below, and Dr. Waite’s bio is at the bottom of this page.
The Brain and Behavior: A Complicated Relationship
Most behavior is controlled by the brain, which receives, processes, and then acts upon sensory inputs from the environment, often through respondent and operant behaviors. The brain is a highly complex organ and is being intensely studied (see the multi-million dollar BRAIN Initiative funded by the federal government). Because the brain is so complicated, both basic and clinical research move relatively slowly, and this often results in behavior professionals reaching for explanations or interventions that aren’t yet certain.
For example, in the behavior field, we often hear or make statements about the limbic system as a controller of “emotions” and other factors impacting behavior, without fully understanding the status of the data. Unfortunately this can result in oversimplification or misinterpretation. Some specific examples that will be covered include:
- People should prevent their dogs from having low serotonin levels, either through diet, medication or other means, in order to treat or avoid aggression problems
- That having a dog “go limbic” must be avoided, and that
- Clicker training is more effective than other techniques because it uniquely recruits the limbic system.
- And MORE!
This talk will cover basic neurobiology, then focus on neurotransmitter and limbic system research to offer insights on what is known or unknown and whether/how this data can be applied by animal behavior and training professionals. The webinar takes place on Monday, February 13th at 2pm Mountain time.
WHO is Dr. Waite?
Mindy has a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan, where she studied mouse brain development. She is also currently working toward her Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with a focus on identifying the function of undesirable companion animal behaviors and effective behavioral interventions. She has been involved in the animal field since first volunteering at the Huron Valley Humane Society during graduate school. In addition to her graduate studies and full-time job managing research support at a large healthcare institution, she is a group dog trainer and canine behavior consultant at Best Paw Forward in Milwaukee, WI. She also recently joined Behavior Education Network.