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Animal Cognition

Andrew Robins, Amira A Goma, Lucie Ouine, Clive J C Phillips
We report a range of lateralized coping strategies adopted by large social groups of cattle in response to mild challenges posed by humans of varying degrees of familiarity. At either 14 or 18 pens at a commercial feedlot, with 90 to 200 cattle in each, we conducted a series of video recorded 'pressure tests'. 'Frontal' pressure tests involved walking from a position perpendicular to the concrete feed bunk of a given pen, towards the geometric centre of the line of feeding cattle. 'Bunk-side' pressure tests involved experimenters walking closely past a pen of feeding cattle in one direction, before returning in the opposite direction shortly afterwards...
July 13, 2018: Animal Cognition
Carolin Sommer-Trembo, Martin Plath
Recent studies on consistent individual differences in behavioural tendencies (animal personality) raised the question of whether individual differences in cognitive abilities can be linked to certain personality types. We tested female Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana) in two different classical conditioning experiments. For the first time, we provide evidence for highly consistent individual differences in associative learning speed in fish. We characterized the same individuals for boldness in two experimental situations (latency to emerge from shelter and freezing time after a simulated predator attack) and found high behavioural repeatability...
July 4, 2018: Animal Cognition
Tyler Cash-Padgett, Habiba Azab, Seng Bum Michael Yoo, Benjamin Y Hayden
Previous studies have shown that the pupils dilate more in anticipation of larger rewards. This finding raises the possibility of a more general association between reward amount and pupil size. We tested this idea by characterizing macaque pupil responses to offered rewards during evaluation and comparison in a binary choice task. To control attention, we made use of a design in which offers occurred in sequence. By looking at pupil responses after choice but before reward, we confirmed the previously observed positive association between pupil size and anticipated reward values...
July 3, 2018: Animal Cognition
Orsolya Kanizsár, Paolo Mongillo, Luca Battaglini, Gianluca Campana, Miina Lõoke, Lieta Marinelli
Knowledge about the mechanisms underlying canine vision is far from being exhaustive, especially that concerning post-retinal elaboration. One aspect that has received little attention is motion perception, and in spite of the common belief that dogs are extremely apt at detecting moving stimuli, there is no scientific support for such an assumption. In fact, we recently showed that dogs have higher thresholds than humans for coherent motion detection (Kanizsar et al. in Sci Rep UK 7:11259, 2017). This term refers to the ability of the visual system to perceive several units moving in the same direction, as one coherently moving global unit...
June 25, 2018: Animal Cognition
Stuart K Watson, Gillian L Vale, Lydia M Hopper, Lewis G Dean, Rachel L Kendal, Elizabeth E Price, Lara A Wood, Sarah J Davis, Steven J Schapiro, Susan P Lambeth, Andrew Whiten
Studies of transmission biases in social learning have greatly informed our understanding of how behaviour patterns may diffuse through animal populations, yet within-species inter-individual variation in social information use has received little attention and remains poorly understood. We have addressed this question by examining individual performances across multiple experiments with the same population of primates. We compiled a dataset spanning 16 social learning studies (26 experimental conditions) carried out at the same study site over a 12-year period, incorporating a total of 167 chimpanzees...
June 19, 2018: Animal Cognition
Sara Zlotnik, Geena M Darnell, Ximena E Bernal
Predators everywhere impose strong selection pressures on the morphology and behavior of their prey, but the resulting antipredator adaptations vary greatly among species. Studies of adaptive coloration in prey species have generally focused on cryptic or aposematic prey, with little consideration of color patterns in palatable mobile prey. Complex color patterns have been proposed to decrease the ability of visual predators to capture moving prey (motion dazzle effect). Most support for this hypothesis, however, comes from experiments with human subjects and simulated prey...
June 19, 2018: Animal Cognition
Kate Farmer, Konstanze Krüger, Richard W Byrne, Isabell Marr
Many studies have been carried out into both motor and sensory laterality of horses in agonistic and stressful situations. Here we examine sensory laterality in affiliative interactions within four groups of domestic horses and ponies (N = 31), living in stable social groups, housed at a single complex close to Vienna, Austria, and demonstrate for the first time a significant population preference for the left side in affiliative approaches and interactions. No effects were observed for gender, rank, sociability, phenotype, group, or age...
June 9, 2018: Animal Cognition
Marlen Fröhlich, Carel P van Schaik
Language is commonly narrowed down to speech, but human face-to-face communication is in fact an intrinsically multimodal phenomenon. Despite growing evidence that the communication of non-human primates, our main model for the evolution of language, is also inherently multimodal, most studies on primate communication have focused on either gestures or vocalizations in isolation. Accordingly, the biological function of multimodal signalling remains poorly understood. In this paper, we aim to merge the perspectives of comparative psychology and behavioural ecology on multimodal communication, and review existing studies in great apes for evidence of multimodal signal function based on content-based, efficacy-based and inter-signal interaction hypotheses...
June 6, 2018: Animal Cognition
Shelby L Lawson, Adam R Fishbein, Nora H Prior, Gregory F Ball, Robert J Dooling
There is a rich history of behavioral and neurobiological research focused on the 'syntax' of birdsong as a model for human language and complex auditory perception. Zebra finches are one of the most widely studied songbird species in this area of investigation. As they produce song syllables in a fixed sequence, it is reasonable to assume that adult zebra finches are also sensitive to the order of syllables within their song; however, results from electrophysiological and behavioral studies provide somewhat mixed evidence on exactly how sensitive zebra finches are to syllable order as compared, say, to syllable structure...
May 15, 2018: Animal Cognition
Krzysztof Miler, Karolina Kuszewska, Gabriela Zuber, Michal Woyciechowski
Recently, antlion larvae with greater behavioural asymmetry were shown to have improved learning abilities. However, a major evolutionary question that remained unanswered was why this asymmetry does not increase in all individuals during development. Here, we show that a trade-off exists between learning ability of larvae and their hunting efficiency. Larvae with greater asymmetry learn better than those with less, but the latter are better able to sense vibrational signals used to detect prey and can capture prey more quickly...
May 14, 2018: Animal Cognition
Amanda W Y Tan, Charlotte K Hemelrijk, Suchinda Malaivijitnond, Michael D Gumert
Examining how animals direct social learning during skill acquisition under natural conditions, generates data for examining hypotheses regarding how transmission biases influence cultural change in animal populations. We studied a population of macaques on Koram Island, Thailand, and examined model-based biases during interactions by unskilled individuals with tool-using group members. We first compared the prevalence of interactions (watching, obtaining food, object exploration) and proximity to tool users during interactions, in developing individuals (infants, juveniles) versus mature non-learners (adolescents, adults), to provide evidence that developing individuals are actively seeking information about tool use from social partners...
May 12, 2018: Animal Cognition
Katja Liebal, Christel Schneider, Manuela Errson-Lembeck
Mechanisms underlying gesture acquisition in primates are largely unstudied, yet heavily debated. While some studies suggest that gestural repertoires are largely innate, others emphasize that gestures emerge and are shaped in social interactions with other conspecifics. There is agreement, however, regarding the negligible role of imitation for the acquisition of gestures. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the current knowledge about gesture acquisition in nonhuman primates, to introduce the corresponding mechanisms suggested to be involved, and to discuss how findings from current studies support the different theories of gesture acquisition...
May 9, 2018: Animal Cognition
Yin Qi, Daniel W A Noble, Jinzhong Fu, Martin J Whiting
A key question in cognition is whether animals that are proficient in a specific cognitive domain (domain specific hypothesis), such as spatial learning, are also proficient in other domains (domain general hypothesis) or whether there is a trade-off. Studies testing among these hypotheses are biased towards mammals and birds. To understand constraints on the evolution of cognition more generally, we need broader taxonomic and phylogenetic coverage. We used Australian eastern water skinks (Eulamprus quoyii) with known spatial learning ability in three additional tasks: an instrumental and two discrimination tasks...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
Katarzyna Majecka, Dariusz Pietraszewski
Object permanence is the ability to represent mentally an object and follow its position even when it has disappeared from view. According to Piaget's 6-stage scale of the sensorimotor period of development, it seems that object permanence appears in Stage 4 and fully develops in Stage 6. In this study, we investigated the ability of some species of monkeys (i.e. pig-tailed macaque, lion-tailed macaque, Celebes crested macaque, barbary macaque, De Brazza's monkey, L'Hoest's monkey, Allen's swamp monkey, black crested mangabeys, collared mangabeys, Geoffroy's spider monkey) to track the displacement of an object, which consisted of a reward hidden under one of two cups...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
William A Roberts, Hayden MacDonald, Ka Ho Lo
The ability to compute probability, previously shown in nonverbal infants, apes, and monkeys, was examined in three experiments with pigeons. After responding to individually presented keys in an operant chamber that delivered reinforcement with varying probabilities, pigeons chose between these keys on probe trials. Pigeons strongly preferred a 75% reinforced key over a 25% reinforced key, even when the total number of reinforcers obtained on each key was equated. When both keys delivered 50% reinforcement, pigeons showed indifference between them, even though three times more reinforcers were obtained on one key than on the other...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
Christoph D Dahl, Christa Wyss, Klaus Zuberbühler, Iris Bachmann
One model of signal evolution is based on the notion that behaviours become increasingly detached from their original biological functions to obtain a communicative value. Selection may not always favour the evolution of such transitions, for instance, if signalling is costly due to predators usurping signal production. Here, we collected inertial movement sensing data recorded from multiple locations in free-ranging horses (Equus caballus), which we subjected to a machine learning algorithm to extract kinematic gestalt profiles...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
M K Stow, A Vernouillet, D M Kelly
The ability to restrain a prepotent response in favor of a more adaptive behavior, or to exert inhibitory control, has been used as a measure of a species' cognitive abilities. Inhibitory control defines a spectrum of behaviors varying in complexity, ranging from self-control to motoric self-regulation. Several factors underlying inhibitory control have been identified, however, the influence of neophobia (i.e., aversion to novelty) on inhibitory control has not received much attention. Neophobia is known to affect complex cognitive abilities, but whether neophobia also influences more basic cognitive abilities, such as motoric self-regulation, has received less attention...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
Zoe Johnson-Ulrich, Jennifer Vonk
The spatial-numerical association of response codes (SNARC) effect is the tendency for humans to respond faster to relatively larger numbers on the left or right (or with the left or right hand) and faster to relatively smaller numbers on the other side. This effect seems to occur due to a spatial representation of magnitude either in occurrence with a number line (wherein participants respond to relatively larger numbers faster on the right), other representations such as clock faces (responses are reversed from number lines), or culturally specific reading directions, begging the question as to whether the effect may be limited to humans...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
Omri Weiss, Anat Levi, Elad Segev, Margarita Simbirsky, David Eilam
In the present study, the dynamic process of group formation in eight unfamiliar rats was followed in order to reveal how the group becomes oriented together in time and space, in light of the complexity that accompanies grouping. The focus was on who, where, and when joined together. We found that rats preferred to be in companionship over remaining alone, with all the rats gradually shifting to share the same location as a resting place. Group formation can be viewed as a tri-phasic process, with some rats gradually becoming more social than others, and thus playing a key role in group formation...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
Christoph J Völter, Josep Call
There is ongoing debate about the extent to which nonhuman animals, like humans, can go beyond first-order perceptual information to abstract structural information from their environment. To provide more empirical evidence regarding this question, we examined what type of information great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans) gain from optical effects such as shadows and mirror images. In an initial experiment, we investigated whether apes would use mirror images and shadows to locate hidden food. We found that all examined ape species used these cues to find the food...
July 2018: Animal Cognition
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