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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...
May 17, 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
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...
May 4, 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...
May 2, 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...
May 2, 2018: Animal Cognition
Hannah K Worsley, Sean J O'Hara
Referential gestures are used by a signaller to draw a recipient's attention to a specific object, individual or event in the environment. These gestures have received much research attention in relation to human and non-human primates with great apes being shown to possess impressive gestural repertoires. Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) meanwhile provide an ideal non-primate candidate for investigating referential signalling due to their unique relationship with humans that centres on non-verbal communication with frequent interaction...
April 30, 2018: Animal Cognition
Catarina Vila Pouca, Culum Brown
The marine environment is filled with biotic and abiotic sounds. Some of these sounds predict important events that influence fitness while others are unimportant. Individuals can learn specific sound cues and 'soundscapes' and use them for vital activities such as foraging, predator avoidance, communication and orientation. Most research with sounds in elasmobranchs has focused on hearing thresholds and attractiveness to sound sources, but very little is known about their abilities to learn about sounds, especially in benthic species...
April 24, 2018: Animal Cognition
Zsófia Bognár, Ivaylo B Iotchev, Enikő Kubinyi
The gaze of other dogs and humans is informative for dogs, but it has not been explored which factors predict face-directed attention. We used image presentations of unfamiliar human and dog heads, facing the observer (portrait) or facing away (profile), and measured looking time responses. We expected dog portraits to be aversive, human portraits to attract interest, and tested dogs of different sex, skull length and breed function, which in previous work had predicted human-directed attention. Dog portraits attracted longer looking times than human profiles...
April 17, 2018: Animal Cognition
Md Robiul Hasan, Adam L Crane, Maud C O Ferrari, Douglas P Chivers
Anthropogenic noise pollution is recognized as a major global stressor of animals. While many studies have assessed the unimodal impacts of noise pollution with a focus on intraspecific acoustic communication, little is known about noise pollution on the perception of visual and chemical information. The 'distracted prey hypothesis' posits that processing noise interferes with processing other information in the brain. Here, we found evidence for such a cross-modal effect of noise on the antipredator behaviour of a freshwater prey fish, the fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas...
April 10, 2018: Animal Cognition
Stuart K Watson, Susan P Lambeth, Steven J Schapiro, Andrew Whiten
How animal communities arrive at homogeneous behavioural preferences is a central question for studies of cultural evolution. Here, we investigated whether chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) would relinquish a pre-existing behaviour to adopt an alternative demonstrated by an overwhelming majority of group mates; in other words, whether chimpanzees behave in a conformist manner. In each of five groups of chimpanzees (N = 37), one individual was trained on one method of opening a two-action puzzle box to obtain food, while the remaining individuals learned the alternative method...
March 24, 2018: Animal Cognition
A Presotto, M P Verderane, L Biondi, O Mendonça-Furtado, N Spagnoletti, M Madden, P Izar
There is evidence that wild animals are able to recall key locations and associate them with navigational routes. Studies in primate navigation suggest most species navigate through the route network system, using intersections among routes as locations of decision-making. Recent approaches presume that points of directional change may be key locations where animals decide where to go next. Over four consecutive years, we observed how a wild group of bearded capuchin monkeys used a route network system and Change Point locations (CPs) in the Brazilian ecotone of Cerrado-Caatinga...
May 2018: Animal Cognition
Sarah Haemmerli, Corinne Thill, Federica Amici, Trix Cacchione
From early infancy, humans reason about the external world in terms of identifiable, solid, cohesive objects persisting in space and time. This is one of the most fundamental human skills, which may be part of our innate conception of object properties. Although object permanence has been extensively studied across a variety of taxa, little is known about how non-human animals reason about other object properties. In this study, we therefore tested how domestic horses (Equus ferus caballus) intuitively reason about object properties like solidity and height, to locate hidden food...
May 2018: Animal Cognition
Lily Johnson-Ulrich, Zoe Johnson-Ulrich, Kay Holekamp
Innovation is widely linked to cognitive ability, brain size, and adaptation to novel conditions. However, successful innovation appears to be influenced by both cognitive factors, such as inhibitory control, and non-cognitive behavioral traits. We used a multi-access box (MAB) paradigm to measure repeated innovation, the number of unique innovations learned across trials, by 10 captive spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Spotted hyenas are highly innovative in captivity and also display striking variation in behavioral traits, making them good model organisms for examining the relationship between innovation and other behavioral traits...
May 2018: Animal Cognition
Banty Tia, Riccardo Viaro, Luciano Fadiga
Tool use relies on numerous cognitive functions, including sustained attention and understanding of causality. In this study, we investigated the effects of tool-use training on cognitive performance in primates. Specifically, we applied the Primate Cognition Test Battery to three long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) at different stages of a training procedure that consisted of using a rake to retrieve out-of-reach food items. In addition, we evaluated a control group (n = 3) performing a grasping task, in order to account for possible effects related to a simple motor act...
May 2018: Animal Cognition
Alex Benjamin, Katie Slocombe
Infant-directed speech (IDS) is a special speech register thought to aid language acquisition and improve affiliation in human infants. Although IDS shares some of its properties with dog-directed speech (DDS), it is unclear whether the production of DDS is functional, or simply an overgeneralisation of IDS within Western cultures. One recent study found that, while puppies attended more to a script read with DDS compared with adult-directed speech (ADS), adult dogs displayed no preference. In contrast, using naturalistic speech and a more ecologically valid set-up, we found that adult dogs attended to and showed more affiliative behaviour towards a speaker of DDS than of ADS...
May 2018: Animal Cognition
José Z Abramson, D Paulina Soto, S Beatriz Zapata, María Victoria Hernández Lloreda
Spatial perseveration has been documented for domestic animals such as mules, donkeys, horses and dogs. However, evidence for this spatial cognition behavior among other domestic species is scarce. Alpacas have been domesticated for at least 7000 years yet their cognitive ability has not been officially reported. The present article used an A-not-B detour task to study the spatial problem-solving abilities of alpacas (Vicugna pacos) and to identify the perseveration errors, which refers to a tendency to maintain a learned route, despite having another available path...
May 2018: Animal Cognition
Michimasa Toyoshima, Kazuo Yamada, Manami Sugita, Yukio Ichitani
The social environment is thought to have a strong impact on cognitive functions. In the present study, we investigated whether social enrichment could affect rats' memory ability using the "Different Objects Task (DOT)," in which the levels of memory load could be modulated by changing the number of objects to be remembered. In addition, we applied the DOT to a social discrimination task using unfamiliar conspecific juveniles instead of objects. Animals were housed in one of the three different housing conditions after weaning [postnatal day (PND) 21]: social-separated (1 per cage), standard (3 per cage), or social-enriched (10 per cage) conditions...
May 2018: Animal Cognition
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