The ScienceCampus Primate Cognition – Moving Images
Recordings for a short film series
Spotlights, camera team, director and make-up artist – for one week, TV presenter Karsten Schwanke and a team from WQ media join the scientists of the Leibniz ScienceCampus Primate Cognition in Göttingen. Their goal: a series of six short movies about current projects conducted through the joint research network of the German Primate Center and the University of Göttingen.
The film crew is familiar with covering scientific projects; they regularly work for Terra X and other documentary programs. But this time, they produce films that will be presented exclusively on the internet. “With this entertaining but nevertheless ambitious format, we want to present some of the topics we are interested in within the ScienceCampus. The internet provides the easiest way to reach our target audience”, explains Julia Fischer, Campus speaker and head of the Cognitive Ethology Lab at the DPZ. Her work is described in one of the films: “Each film runs four to five minutes only, and is much more descriptive and vivid than any written text”.
The recording sessions are challenging, even for an experienced film team. All scientific areas that are represented in the ScienceCampus shall be covered – in only a few days. Filming starts in the DPZ laboratories to document the analysis of genetic and hormonal samples. Julia Fischer and her team use these data to learn more about the social system of Guinea baboons in Senegal. Next, the team moves on to visit Hannes Rakoczy at the University of Göttingen. The developmental psychologist investigates if infants (and the monkeys at the DPZ) can logically infer where it is more likely to find a highly preferred reward. The following days bring further recording sessions at the long-tailed macaque facilities, the imaging units and the neurophysiology labs.
An ambitious documentary needs more than illustrating the work process. Wednesday is interview day. A “green screen” is set up in the old lecture hall, and the scientists are asked to explain in few and concise words what is essential about their work. “With these films, we can not only present our research topics, but can demonstrate the innovative testing procedures that we develop”, says Alexander Gail (Sensorimotor group). “As part of the ScienceCampus, we could develop a novel and unique research platform, which we can now show for the first time”. Together with Igor Kagan (Decision and Awareness Group) and Stefan Treue (Cognitive Neuroscience), Gail is pleased to demonstrate the new platform in the series.
Another film covers how Susann Boretius (DPZ) and Roberto Goya-Maldonado (University Medical Center) make use of basic research on non-human primates to develop improved imaging techniques, which will ultimately benefit human patients. Annekathrin Schacht brings psychology and neurophysiology together. At the University of Göttingen, she investigates how our brain processes emotional stimuli. To achieve this goal, study participants watch images or words on a screen, while their brain activities are simultaneously recorded through EEG electrodes.
“These six films will provide a first glimpse of the width of our research activities. We also want to show how closely scientists from different research institutions cooperate within the ScienceCampus”, reports Julia Fischer. “Depending on the success of this new format, we imagine to produce additional films in the future”.
From end of April, the films will be available online at the youtube channel and on the website of the Leibniz ScienceCampus.