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Animal Cognition

Lori Marino
Domestic chickens are members of an order, Aves, which has been the focus of a revolution in our understanding of neuroanatomical, cognitive, and social complexity. At least some birds are now known to be on par with many mammals in terms of their level of intelligence, emotional sophistication, and social interaction. Yet, views of chickens have largely remained unrevised by this new evidence. In this paper, I examine the peer-reviewed scientific data on the leading edge of cognition, emotions, personality, and sociality in chickens, exploring such areas as self-awareness, cognitive bias, social learning and self-control, and comparing their abilities in these areas with other birds and other vertebrates, particularly mammals...
January 2, 2017: Animal Cognition
Julia L Riley, Daniel W A Noble, Richard W Byrne, Martin J Whiting
Early developmental environment can have profound effects on individual physiology, behaviour, and learning. In birds and mammals, social isolation during development is known to negatively affect learning ability; yet in other taxa, like reptiles, the effect of social isolation during development on learning ability is unknown. We investigated how social environment affects learning ability in the family-living tree skink (Egernia striolata). We hypothesized that early social environment shapes cognitive development in skinks and predicted that skinks raised in social isolation would have reduced learning ability compared to skinks raised socially...
December 26, 2016: Animal Cognition
Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, Lynna C Feng, Jessica K Woodhead, Nicholas J Rutter, Philippe A Chouinard, Tiffani J Howell, Pauleen C Bennett
Susceptibility to geometrical visual illusions has been tested in a number of non-human animal species, providing important information about how these species perceive their environment. Considering their active role in human lives, visual illusion susceptibility was tested in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Using a two-choice simultaneous discrimination paradigm, eight dogs were trained to indicate which of two presented circles appeared largest. These circles were then embedded in three different illusory displays; a classical display of the Ebbinghaus-Titchener illusion; an illusory contour version of the Ebbinghaus-Titchener illusion; and the classical display of the Delboeuf illusion...
December 22, 2016: Animal Cognition
Maria Elena Miletto Petrazzini, Angelo Bisazza, Christian Agrillo
In the last decade, visual illusions have been repeatedly used as a tool to compare visual perception among species. Several studies have investigated whether non-human primates perceive visual illusions in a human-like fashion, but little attention has been paid to other mammals, and sensitivity to visual illusions has been never investigated in the dog. Here, we studied whether domestic dogs perceive the Delboeuf illusion. In human and non-human primates, this illusion creates a misperception of item size as a function of its surrounding context...
December 20, 2016: Animal Cognition
Edwin J C van Leeuwen, Josep Call
Social learning is predicted to evolve in socially living animals provided the learning process is not random but biased by certain socio-ecological factors. One bias of particular interest for the emergence of (cumulative) culture is the tendency to forgo personal behaviour in favour of relatively better variants observed in others, also known as the "copy-if-better" strategy. We investigated whether chimpanzees employ copy-if-better in a simple token-exchange paradigm controlling for individual and random social learning...
December 20, 2016: Animal Cognition
Maria Bulgheroni, Andrea Camperio-Ciani, Elisa Straulino, Luisa Sartori, Enrico D'Amico, Umberto Castiello
When a monkey selects a piece of food lying on the ground from among other viable objects in the near vicinity, only the desired item governs the particular pattern and direction of the animal's reaching action. It would seem then that selection is an important component controlling the animal's action. But, we may ask, is the selection process in such cases impervious to the presence of other objects that could constitute potential obstacles to or constraints on movement execution? And if it is, in fact, pervious to other objects, do they have a direct influence on the organization of the response? The kinematics of macaques' reaching movements were examined by the current study that analysed some exemplars as they selectively reached to grasp a food item in the absence as well as in the presence of potential obstacles (i...
December 18, 2016: Animal Cognition
Thomas R Zentall, Jacob P Case, Jonathon R Berry
The ephemeral reward task provides a subject with a choice between two alternatives A and B. If it chooses alternative A, reinforcement follows and the trial is over. If it chooses alternative B, reinforcement follows but the subject can also respond to alternative A which is followed by a second reinforcement. Thus, it would be optimal to choose alternative B. Surprisingly, Salwiczek et al. (PLoS One 7:e49068, 2012. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.00490682012 ) reported that adult fish (cleaner wrasse) mastered this task within 100 trials, whereas monkeys and apes had great difficulty with it...
December 17, 2016: Animal Cognition
Omri Weiss, Elad Segev, David Eilam
Spatial organization is an extensively studied field, in which most of the research has been on how the physical environment is perceived and conceived. There is a consensus that physical attributes such as environment geometry and landmarks are key factors in shaping spatial cognition. Nevertheless, the numerous studies of spatial behavior have usually been carried out on individuals, thereby overlooking the possible impact of the social environment. In the present study, rats were exposed to an unfamiliar open-field, first alone and then in tetrads of unfamiliar individuals, in order to monitor and analyze when and how their individual spatial behavior converged to a group spatial behavior...
December 17, 2016: 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
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