‘Monkey media player’ suggests zoo animals may prefer to listen

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Credit: University of Glasgow

A “monkey media player” that lets zoo animals choose between video and sound files suggests they may prefer to spend more of their time listening than watching.

The player is the latest development in ongoing zoo enrichment research from animal-computer interaction specialists at the University of Glasgow in the U.K. and Aalto University in Finland.

Enrichment activities for are important for maintaining their physical and mental health and improving their quality of life. Some zoos are already using computer-based, interactive enrichment systems with primates like gorillas, chimps and orangutans. The touchscreen systems are designed to entertain and engage the animals with interactions to stimulate cognition in ways comparable to activities they might undertake in the wild.

The researchers set out to explore how a group of three white-faced saki monkeys at Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki would respond to being able to trigger audio or visual on demand, like a primate-focused Spotify or Netflix. The system is the first of its kind to offer monkeys a choice of stimuli.

To do so, they built a computer interface contained in a small wood-and-plastic tunnel which they placed in the monkeys’ enclosure. Infrared sensors created three equally-sized interactive zones inside the tunnel. When monkeys moved through an infrared beam, it would trigger either a video or a sound on a screen in front of them which played for as long as they chose to stay.

The device was in the sakis’ enclosure for a total of 32 days. For the first seven days, the tunnel was silent to allow them to get used to its presence. For the next 18 days, they could choose between an audio or video stimulus which changed every few days. Over the course of the experiment, those stimuli were rain sounds, music or traffic noise, or videos of worms, underwater scenes, or abstract shapes and colors.

Each time they interacted with the system, it automatically recorded what was playing, and how long they spent in the interactive zone which triggered the content to play. Finally, for seven days at the end of experiment, the tunnel returned to being non-interactive once more.

While the audiovisual stimuli elements of the tunnel were active, the sakis’ interactions were mostly short, lasting a few seconds each time as they walked or ran through the system—mirroring how they interact with more familiar elements in their enclosure.

Typical interaction example. Credit: University of Glasgow

The sakis triggered audio stimuli twice as much in total as visual stimuli, but over time their interactions shifted. As the study progressed, their overall levels of interaction with both stimuli dropped, but their interactions with increased in comparison with the audio stimuli. In total, they listened to music most of the three audio files, and watched the underwater video most frequently.

The research was led by Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas of the University of Glasgow, along with colleague Vilma Kankaanpää of Aalto University in Finland.

It builds on the pair’s previous research using a similar system which measured sakis’ interactions initially with video alone and then with audio alone. This is the first time that the sakis had the option of interacting with both stimuli.

Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science, said: “We’ve been working with Korkeasaari Zoo for several years now to learn more about how white-faced sakis might benefit from computer systems designed specifically for them. Previously, we have explored how they interacted with and audio content, but this is the first time we’ve given the option to choose between the two.

“Our findings raise a number of questions which are worthy of further study to help us build effective interactive enrichment systems. Further study could help us determine whether the short interactions were simply part of their typical behavior, or reflective of their level of interest in the system. Similarly, their varying levels of interaction over time could be reflective of how engaging they found the content, or simply that they were becoming habituated to the tunnel’s presence in their enclosure. While they chose audio more regularly than video, the results weren’t statistically significant enough for us to know for sure what they prefer.

“Animal-computer interaction is still an emerging field of research. The data we collected in this study will be part of further developments as we learn more about their habits and preferences. The ultimate goal for us is to bridge the gap between human understanding of how animals access and experience computer systems to create meaningful and relevant experiences for monkeys.”

Kirsi Pynnönen-Oudman, research coordinator at the Helsinki/Korkeasaari Zoo, added: “Very little research has been done on the Pitheciidae-family monkeys and their enrichment at the zoos. This study on the white-faced saki monkeys gives us valuable data how to use different enrichment items for these New World monkeys. They live in the lower canopy of the rainforest of Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela. In general, saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia) are not very intensively studied, not in the wild, nor in the captivity.

“This kind of new information will help the conservation efforts of this species both in in the wild and in captivity. Sakis have a , called the EAZA Ex situ programs, running in European zoos. The program coordinator visited our zoo recently and was very interested of the studies made on them using the computer based animal-driven choice tunnels.”

The research results will be presented at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, which runs between 13 and 17 June 2022. An accompanying research paper, “Do Monkeys Want Audio or Visual Stimuli? Interactive Computers for Choice with White-Faced Sakis in Zoos,” will also be made available online.

‘Monkey media player’ suggests zoo animals may prefer to listen (2022, June 12)
retrieved 13 June 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-monkey-media-player-zoo-animals.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Social media can influence stock returns, finance professor says thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Social media can influence stock returns, finance professor says

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Alexander Kurov has studied Twitter’s effect on the stock market. Credit: Brian Persinger/West Virginia University WVU’s Alex Kurov has studied Twitter’s effect on the stock market. Credit: WVU Photo

Twitter’s impact is not limited to news, sports and political opinions.

Posts on the social media platform can influence , according to research led by a West Virginia University financial expert.

Alexander Kurov, Fred T. Tattersall Research Chair and Professor of Finance in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics, found that firm-level Twitter content has information useful for predicting next-day stock returns, and that it is a stronger predictor of returns for firms with less analyst coverage.

Kurov co-authored the study, “Informational role of social media: Evidence from Twitter sentiment,” with Chen Gu, a 2018 graduate of the WVU finance doctoral program. Their findings are being published in the Journal of Banking and Finance.

In reaching their conclusions, Kurov and Gu obtained data from Bloomberg, which classifies individual tweets about a given company, aggregates them and calls the resulting variable “Twitter sentiment.”

“Academic research in finance generally shows that investor sentiment tends to be driven by investor beliefs or feelings not justified by fundamentals, such as facts and rational expectations that should determine the value of a stock,” Kurov said. “Our results show, however, that Twitter sentiment contains relevant information not yet reflected in .

“In particular, we show that Twitter sentiment contains information about upcoming analyst recommendation changes, analyst target price changes, quarterly earnings surprises and opening of stock initial public offerings.”

Since 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission has allowed public firms to distribute news, such as quarterly earnings, to the public via Twitter. The increased use of Twitter by firms and investors—including famous names like Warren Buffett—spurred Kurov and Gu to research the matter and determine how social media can be employed as part of an investment strategy.

Kurov also pointed to events in which information was prematurely revealed on Twitter, leading to large moves in stock prices.

For example, at a 2016 conference of the American Diabetes Association, the results of a clinical trial of Victoza, a new diabetes drug produced by Novo Nordisk, were announced during a presentation. While the ADA asked attendees to keep that information confidential, pictures of presentation slides showing those results popped up on several Twitter accounts within minutes.

Novo’s stock price fell by 5.6 percent the following day because the new drug appeared less effective than expected.

“On the one hand, it is possible that tweets mentioning companies have little new relevant information,” Kurov said. “In that case, Twitter content is just random noise that should have no permanent effect on stock prices. On the other hand, Twitter may aggregate bits and pieces of from diverse sources. We wanted to see which of these two plausible stories has more support in the data. Some previous studies have looked at information content of Twitter messages, but we were the first to test systematically if these messages contain useful information about thousands of individual stocks.”

These findings have important implications for market participants, Kurov added. Traders should now analyze social media content carefully, and entities should continue to improve transparency and market efficiency by utilizing social media, he said.

And despite the evidence that tweets can influence prices, Kurov said it is unlikely that firms or investors can systematically manipulate stocks through Twitter activity.

“If a Twitter feed consistently disseminates information that is not factual, investors will quickly figure this out,” he said. “Furthermore, spreading false with intent to manipulate security prices is illegal and could make the person doing that a target of an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Social media can influence stock returns, finance professor says (2020, November 9)
retrieved 10 November 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-social-media-stock-professor.html

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