The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Oct. 1, 2001

Oct. 6 Saturday Scholars focuses on danger of equating animal, human behavior

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Human infants cry to express discomfort and prompt parents to attend to their needs. Infant rat cries can also elicit parental attention but not for the same reasons. Mark Blumberg, a University of Iowa psychology professor, will discuss the dangers of assuming that animal behavior mirrors human behavior in his presentation, "Do Infant Rats Cry? And Why Should We Care?" on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. in Room 40, Schaeffer Hall. The discussion is part of the Saturday Scholars series, presented by the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Blumberg said it is dangerous to generalize from our own experiences and assume that all infants cry for the same reason if our goal is to understand the diversity of animal behavior.

"Infant and adult animals make sounds for many different reasons that are more complicated than we might have expected," he said. "The infant rat's cry is an incidental sound produced as these animals attempt to maintain adequate blood flow to the heart, just as a sneeze or a cough is an incidental sound in response to a tickle in the nose or throat."

Blumberg has been recognized for his distinguished scholarship with an Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association and a Faculty Scholar Award from the UI. His current work is funded by two grants from the National Institutes of Health. He has published 50 journal articles and book chapters, and he has completed a book on the effects of temperature on physiology and behavior in humans and other animals, which is being published in spring, 2002 by Harvard University Press.

In a preview of his Oct. 6 presentation, Blumberg will be a guest on "Iowa Talks," WSUI AM- 910, on Friday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m.

Upcoming lectures in the Saturday Scholars series include:

Oct. 20 "The Civility Trap: America's Nostalgia for a More Civil Time," Melissa Deem, assistant professor of rhetoric and women's studies

Nov. 3 A reading from the novel "Carry Me Across the Water," Ethan Canin, professor of English

Nov. 17 "Lessons on Empowerment: Listening to the Voices of Entrepreneurial Women," Salome Raheim, director of the UI School of Social Work

All presentations will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 40, Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the UI Pentacrest. Each session will last about an hour, including a 20-30 minute presentation followed by a question-and-answer session. Refreshments will be served.

Additional information is available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 335-2610.