Tag Archives: mocking birds

Children’s parties and the Nobel Prize for brainy rats

Fascinating news about John O Keefe’s Nobel Prize. His research looked at the way rats’ brains worked out a sort of GPS system which told them where they were. It’s neuroscience stuff…

Here’s a game we used to play at children’s parties: one person goes outside while something is hidden – behind the sofa, on top of a shelf etc. Everyone knows where it is except the outsider. When they enter, everyone starts to sing: “Have you seen the mocking bird, the mocking bird, the mocking bird? Have you seen the mocking bird that lives in yonder tree?”
(The tune is similar to Here we go round the mulberry bush.)
The singing starts loudly while the outsider begins to search for the hidden treasure. When they get near it, the singing goes very quiet.If they move away, the singing gets louder.If the outsider moves very far away, say to the other side of the room, the singing gets very loud and close to shouting. ( This is a children’s party, don’t forget.) That way, the outsider gets an idea of where the treasure is hidden. In other sords, they’re mapping the room. Then, when the singing is down to a whisper, they’re know they’re very hot until – Bingo!

Clearly, either John O Keefe played this game as a child ( his parents were Irish) or we have a lot in common with rats.

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