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Animal Cognition

Monamie Ringhofer, Shinya Yamamoto
Some domestic animals are thought to be skilled at social communication with humans due to the process of domestication. Horses, being in close relationship with humans, similar to dogs, might be skilled at communication with humans. Previous studies have indicated that they are sensitive to bodily signals and the attentional state of humans; however, there are few studies that investigate communication with humans and responses to the knowledge state of humans. Our first question was whether and how horses send signals to their potentially helpful but ignorant caretakers in a problem-solving situation where a food item was hidden in a bucket that was accessible only to the caretakers...
November 24, 2016: Animal Cognition
Aurelia Schuetz, Kate Farmer, Konstanze Krueger
This study examines whether horses can learn by observing humans, given that they identify individual humans and orientate on the focus of human attention. We tested 24 horses aged between 3 and 12. Twelve horses were tested on whether they would learn to open a feeding apparatus by observing a familiar person. The other 12 were controls and received exactly the same experimental procedure, but without a demonstration of how to operate the apparatus. More horses from the group with demonstration (8/12) reached the learning criterion of opening the feeder twenty times consecutively than horses from the control group (2/12), and younger horses seemed to reach the criterion more quickly...
November 19, 2016: Animal Cognition
Jessica Taubert, Kimberly B Weldon, Lisa A Parr
Being able to recognize the faces of our friends and family members no matter where we see them represents a substantial challenge for the visual system because the retinal image of a face can be degraded by both changes in the person (age, expression, pose, hairstyle, etc.) and changes in the viewing conditions (direction and degree of illumination). Yet most of us are able to recognize familiar people effortlessly. A popular theory for how face recognition is achieved has argued that the brain stabilizes facial appearance by building average representations that enhance diagnostic features that reliably vary between people while diluting features that vary between instances of the same person...
November 19, 2016: Animal Cognition
Timothy J A Hain, Shawn R Garner, Indar W Ramnarine, Bryan D Neff
Both selection and phylogenetic history can influence the evolution of phenotypic traits. Here we used recently characterized variation in kin recognition mechanisms among six guppy populations to explore the phylogenetic history of this trait. Guppies can use two different kin recognition mechanisms: either phenotype matching, in which individuals are identified based on comparison with a recognition template, or familiarity, in which individuals are remembered based on previous interactions. Across the six populations, we identified four transitions in recognition mechanism: phenotype matching evolved once and was subsequently lost in a single population, whereas familiarity evolved twice...
November 18, 2016: Animal Cognition
Valentina Truppa, Paola Carducci, Diego Antonio De Simone, Angelo Bisazza, Carlo De Lillo
In the last two decades, comparative research has addressed the issue of how the global and local levels of structure of visual stimuli are processed by different species, using Navon-type hierarchical figures, i.e. smaller local elements that form larger global configurations. Determining whether or not the variety of procedures adopted to test different species with hierarchical figures are equivalent is of crucial importance to ensure comparability of results. Among non-human species, global/local processing has been extensively studied in tufted capuchin monkeys using matching-to-sample tasks with hierarchical patterns...
November 17, 2016: Animal Cognition
Brian D Peer
Most passerine birds practice nest sanitation whereby they remove debris from their nest. Nest sanitation has been posited as a pre-adaptation for egg ejection by hosts of avian brood parasites. However, relatively few North American hosts of the brood parasitic brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) eject cowbird eggs to the detriment of their fitness. In this study, I added either a piece of flagging tape or a pine cone bract scale along with an artificial cowbird egg to nests of the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) to determine whether the act of nest sanitation would elicit egg ejection...
November 17, 2016: Animal Cognition
Paul M Cohen, Laurie R Santos
The asymmetric dominance effect (ADE) occurs when the introduction of a partially dominated decoy option increases the choice share of its dominating alternative. The ADE is a violation of regularity and the constant-ratio rule, which are two derivations of the independence of irrelevant alternatives axiom, a core tenant of rational choice. The ADE is one of the most widely reported human choice phenomena, leading researchers to probe its origins by studying a variety of non-human species. We examined the ADE in brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), a species that displays many other decision biases...
November 16, 2016: Animal Cognition
Andrea S Griffin, Sabine Tebbich, Thomas Bugynar
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 15, 2016: Animal Cognition
Rindy C Anderson, William A Searcy, Susan Peters, Melissa Hughes, Adrienne L DuBois, Stephen Nowicki
Learned aspects of song have been hypothesized to signal cognitive ability in songbirds. We tested this hypothesis in hand-reared song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) that were tutored with playback of adult songs during the critical period for song learning. The songs developed by the 19 male subjects were compared to the model songs to produce two measures of song learning: the proportion of notes copied from models and the average spectrogram cross-correlation between copied notes and model notes. Song repertoire size, which reflects song complexity, was also measured...
November 14, 2016: Animal Cognition
Lindsay P Schwartz, Alan Silberberg, Anna H Casey, David N Kearns, Burton Slotnick
In Experiment 1, rats choosing in an E maze preferred to release a rat standing in a pool of water to dry ground over a rat already standing on dry ground. Five additional experiments showed that the choosing rat's preference for releasing the wet rat was maintained by two separable outcomes: (1) the social contact offered by the released rat and (2) the reinforcing value of proximity to a pool of water. These results call into question Sato et al.'s (Anim Cogn 18:1039-1047, 2015) claim to have demonstrated that a rat's releasing of a wet rat to dry ground is empathically motivated...
November 7, 2016: Animal Cognition
Kateřina Bílá, Jana Beránková, Petr Veselý, Thomas Bugnyar, Christine Schwab
Urban animals and birds in particular are able to cope with diverse novel threats in a city environment such as avoiding novel, unfamiliar predators. Predator avoidance often includes alarm signals that can be used also by hetero-specifics, which is mainly the case in mixed-species flocks. It can also occur when species do not form flocks but co-occur together. In this study we tested whether urban crows use alarm calls of conspecifics and hetero-specifics (jackdaws, Corvus monedula) differently in a predator and a non-predator context with partly novel and unfamiliar zoo animal species...
October 31, 2016: Animal Cognition
Tina Peckmezian, Phillip W Taylor
Using a conditioned passive place avoidance paradigm, we investigated the relative importance of three experimental parameters on learning and memory in a salticid, Servaea incana. Spiders encountered an aversive electric shock stimulus paired with one side of a two-sided arena. Our three parameters were the ecological relevance of the visual stimulus, the time interval between trials and the time interval before test. We paired electric shock with either a black or white visual stimulus, as prior studies in our laboratory have demonstrated that S...
October 28, 2016: Animal Cognition
Tyrone Lucon-Xiccato, Marco Dadda, Elia Gatto, Angelo Bisazza
The shoal-choice test is a popular method to investigate quantity discrimination in social fish based on their spontaneous preference for the larger of two shoals. The shoal-choice test usually requires a long observation time (20-30 min), mainly because fish switch between the two shoals with low frequency, thus reducing the possibilities of comparison. This duration limits the use of the shoal-choice test for large-scale screenings. Here, we developed a new version of the shoal-choice test in which the subject was confined in a large transparent cylinder in the middle of the tank throughout the experiment to bound the minimum distance from the stimulus shoals and favour switching...
October 27, 2016: Animal Cognition
Alejandra Morales Picard, Lauren Hogan, Megan L Lambert, Anna Wilkinson, Amanda M Seed, Katie E Slocombe
While social learning has been demonstrated in species across many taxa, the role it plays in everyday foraging decisions is not well understood. Investigating social learning during foraging could shed light on the emergence of cultural variation in different groups. We used an open diffusion experiment to examine the spread of a novel foraging technique in captive Amazon parrots. Three groups were tested using a two-action foraging box, including experimental groups exposed to demonstrators using different techniques and control birds...
October 26, 2016: Animal Cognition
Ira G Federspiel, Alexis Garland, David Guez, Thomas Bugynar, Susan D Healy, Onur Güntürkün, Andrea S Griffin
Establishment in urbanized environments is associated with changes in physiology, behaviour, and problem-solving. We compared the speed of learning in urban and rural female common mynas, Acridotheres tristis, using a standard visual discrimination task followed by a reversal learning phase. We also examined how quickly each bird progressed through different stages of learning, including sampling and acquisition within both initial and reversal learning, and persistence following reversal. Based on their reliance on very different food resources, we expected urban mynas to learn and reversal learn more quickly but to sample new contingencies for proportionately longer before learning them...
October 24, 2016: Animal Cognition
Bret Pasch, Rachel Sanford, Steven M Phelps
Interspecific aggression between sibling species may enhance discrimination of competitors when recognition errors are costly, but proximate mechanisms mediating increased discriminative ability are unclear. We studied behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying responses to conspecific and heterospecific vocalizations in Alston's singing mouse (Scotinomys teguina), a species in which males sing to repel rivals. We performed playback experiments using males in allopatry and sympatry with a dominant heterospecific (Scotinomys xerampelinus) and examined song-evoked induction of egr-1 in the auditory system to examine how neural tuning modulates species-specific responses...
October 18, 2016: Animal Cognition
Emma C Tecwyn, Stephanie Denison, Emily J E Messer, Daphna Buchsbaum
The ability to reason about probabilities has ecological relevance for many species. Recent research has shown that both preverbal infants and non-human great apes can make predictions about single-item samples randomly drawn from populations by reasoning about proportions. To further explore the evolutionary origins of this ability, we conducted the first investigation of probabilistic inference in a monkey species (capuchins; Sapajus spp.). Across four experiments, capuchins (N = 19) were presented with two populations of food items that differed in their relative distribution of preferred and non-preferred items, such that one population was more likely to yield a preferred item...
October 15, 2016: Animal Cognition
Paolo Mongillo, Elisa Pitteri, Pamela Sambugaro, Paolo Carnier, Lieta Marinelli
Dogs enrolled in a previous study were assessed two years later for reliability of their local/global preference in a discrimination test with the same hierarchical stimuli used in the previous study (Experiment 1) and with a novel stimulus (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, dogs easily re-learned to discriminate the positive stimulus; their individual global/local choices were stable compared to the previous study; and an overall clear global bias was found. In Experiment 2, dogs were slower in acquiring the initial discrimination task; the overall global bias disappeared; and, individually, dogs tended to make inverse choices compared to the original study...
October 13, 2016: Animal Cognition
Barbora Kubenova, Martina Konecna, Bonaventura Majolo, Petr Smilauer, Julia Ostner, Oliver Schülke
Social knowledge beyond one's direct relationships is a key in successfully manoeuvring the social world. Individuals gather information on the quality of social relationships between their group companions, which has been termed triadic awareness. Evidence of the use of triadic awareness in natural contexts is limited mainly to conflict management. Here we investigated triadic awareness in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) in the context of bridging interactions defined as male-infant-male interactions whereby a male (initiator, holder) presents an infant to another male (receiver, non-holder) in order to initiate an affiliative interaction with that male...
October 12, 2016: Animal Cognition
Alexandra E Smith, Stefan J Dalecki, Jonathon D Crystal
Rats retain source memory (memory for the origin of information) over a retention interval of at least 1 week, whereas their spatial working memory (radial maze locations) decays within approximately 1 day. We have argued that different forgetting functions dissociate memory systems. However, the two tasks, in our previous work, used different reward values. The source memory task used multiple pellets of a preferred food flavor (chocolate), whereas the spatial working memory task provided access to a single pellet of standard chow-flavored food at each location...
October 5, 2016: Animal Cognition
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