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Learning & Behavior

Benigno Alonso-Álvarez, Luis Antonio Pérez-González
We evaluated whether contextual control over equivalence and nonequivalence (i.e., selecting comparisons equivalent to the samples in the presence of a contextual cue, and excluding the selection of comparisons equivalent to the samples in the presence of another contextual cue) can account for apparent arbitrarily applicable relational responding (AARR) in accordance with the frames of sameness and opposition, as defined in relational frame theory (RFT). Three college students were trained to maintain previously established conditional discriminations in the presence of a contextual cue X1, and to reverse them in the presence of another contextual cue X2 (e...
March 8, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Ludwig Huber, Claus Lamm
Recent pioneering work has shown the great promise that scanning awake, nonsedated dogs holds for both understanding the canine and the human brain and mind. A number of technological and methodological challenges, however, still need to be overcome to fully tap this potential.
February 25, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Benjamin U Phillips, Christopher J Heath, Zofia Ossowska, Timothy J Bussey, Lisa M Saksida
Operant testing is a widely used and highly effective method of studying cognition in rodents. Performance on such tasks is sensitive to reinforcer strength. It is therefore advantageous to select effective reinforcers to minimize training times and maximize experimental throughput. To quantitatively investigate the control of behavior by different reinforcers, performance of mice was tested with either strawberry milkshake or a known powerful reinforcer, super saccharin (1.5% or 2% (w/v) saccharin/1.5% (w/v) glucose/water mixture)...
February 15, 2017: Learning & Behavior
James F Briggs, Brian P Olson
Two experiments using rats evaluated the susceptibility of CS preexposure to retrograde amnesia induced by the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide and tested whether amnesia for CS preexposure shares similar characteristics with amnesia for other memories. In Experiment 1, rats received cycloheximide either immediately, 60 minutes, or 120 minutes after preexposure. Following preexposure, rats received fear conditioning. When later tested, the subjects that received the amnestic treatment shortly after preexposure showed no CS preexposure effect (i...
February 8, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Hidekazu Kaneko, Hiroto Sano, Yasuhisa Hasegawa, Hiroshi Tamura, Shinya S Suzuki
To investigate how motor sensation facilitates learning, we used a sensory-motor association task to determine whether the sensation induced by forced movements contributes to performance improvements in rats. The rats were trained to respond to a tactile stimulus (an air puff) by releasing a lever pressed by the stimulated (compatible condition) or nonstimulated (incompatible condition) forepaw. When error rates fell below 15%, the compatibility condition was changed (reversal learning). An error trial was followed by a lever activation trial in which a lever on the correct or the incorrect response side was automatically elevated at a preset time of 120, 220, 320, or 420 ms after tactile stimulation...
January 14, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Edward A Wasserman, Roger K R Thompson
Scientists hoping to elucidate the origin of human stone tool manufacture and use have looked to extant primate species for possible clues. Although some skepticism has been raised, there is clear evidence that today's capuchin monkeys can make and use stone tools.
January 11, 2017: Learning & Behavior
A Matías Gámez, Samuel P León, Juan M Rosas
Four experiments in human instrumental learning explored the associations involving the context that develop after three trials of training on simple discriminations. Experiments 1 and 4 found a deleterious effect of switching the learning context that cannot be explained by the context-outcome binary associations commonly used to explain context-switch effects after short training in human predictive learning and in animal Pavlovian conditioning. Evidence for context-outcome (Experiment 2), context-discriminative stimulus (Experiment 3), and context-instrumental response (Experiment 4) binary associations was found within the same training paradigm, suggesting that contexts became associated with all the elements of the situation, regardless of whether those associations played a role in a specific context-switch effect detected on performance...
December 30, 2016: Learning & Behavior
Jackie Chappell
Kabadayi, Taylor, von Bayern, and Osvath (2016, Royal Society Open Science, 3, 160104) recently showed that among birds, absolute brain size predicts performance on a motor self-control task thought to be important for cognition. However, birds performed at an equivalent level to much larger-brained primates, opening up the debate about brain size and cognition.
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Michael F Brown, Alexander A Brown
Yu et al. (2016) demonstrated that algorithms designed to find efficient routes in standard mazes can be integrated with the natural processes controlling rat navigation and spatial choices, and they pointed out the promise of such "cyborg intelligence" for biorobotic applications. Here, we briefly describe Yu et al.'s work, explore its relevance to the study of comparative cognition, and indicate how work involving cyborg intelligence would benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration between behavioral scientists and engineers...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Shuai Wang, Shan-Hu Hu, Yi Shi, Bao-Ming Li
It has been shown that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and its dopamine system are crucial for decision making that requires physical/emotional effort, but not for all forms of cost-benefit decision making. Previous studies had mostly employed behavioral tasks with two competing cost-reward options that were preset by the experimenters. However, few studies have been conducted using scenarios in which the subjects have full control over the energy/time expenditure required to obtain a proportional reward...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Douglas A Williams, Travis P Todd, Chrissy M Chubala, Elliot A Ludvig
Three experiments assessed how appetitive conditioning in rats changes over the duration of a trace conditioned stimulus (CS) when unsignaled unconditioned stimuli (USs) are introduced into the intertrial interval. In Experiment 1, a target US occurred at a fixed time either shortly before (embedded), shortly after (trace), or at the same time (delay) as the offset of a 120-s CS. During the CS, responding was most suppressed by intertrial USs in the trace group, less so in the delay group, and least in the embedded group...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
John Y H Bai, Sarah Cowie, Christopher A Podlesnik
Resurgence is the recurrence of a previously reinforced and then extinguished behavior induced by the extinction of another more recently reinforced behavior. Resurgence provides insight into behavioral processes relevant to treatment relapse of a range of problem behaviors. Resurgence is typically studied across three phases: (1) reinforcement of a target response, (2) extinction of the target and concurrent reinforcement of an alternative response, and (3) extinction of the alternative response, resulting in the recurrence of target responding...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Alliston K Reid, Sara E Futch, Katherine M Ball, Aubrey G Knight, Martha Tucker
We examined the controlling factors that allow a prompted skill to become autonomous in a discrete-trials implementation of Touchette's (1971) progressively delayed prompting procedure, but our subjects were rats rather than children with disabilities. Our prompted skill was a left-right lever-press sequence guided by two panel lights. We manipulated (a) the effectiveness of the guiding lights prompt and (b) the presence or absence of a progressively delayed prompt in four groups of rats. The less effective prompt yielded greater autonomy than the more effective prompt...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Carter W Daniels, Federico Sanabria
The distribution of latencies and interresponse times (IRTs) of rats was compared between two fixed-interval (FI) schedules of food reinforcement (FI 30 s and FI 90 s), and between two levels of food deprivation. Computational modeling revealed that latencies and IRTs were well described by mixture probability distributions embodying two-state Markov chains. Analysis of these models revealed that only a subset of latencies is sensitive to the periodicity of reinforcement, and prefeeding only reduces the size of this subset...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Andrew T Marshall, Kimberly Kirkpatrick
Zalocusky et al. (Nature 531:642-646, 2016) recently showed that activity in D2R+ cells in the nucleus accumbens is associated with loss sensitivity to prior outcomes and reduced subsequent risky choice, and that optogenetic stimulation of these cells decreased risky choices in risk-prone rats. While their findings are important for understanding trait-level risk-taking, future research should aim to examine the neuronal mechanisms of a broader range of facets of gain and loss processing with respect to different potential reference points...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
B Szabo, T Bugnyar, A M I Auersperg
Different types of social relationships can influence individual learning strategies in structured groups of animals. Studies on a number of avian species have suggested that local and/or stimulus enhancement are important ingredients of the respective species' exploration modes. Our aim was to identify the role of enhancement during object manipulation in different social contexts. We used focal observations to identify a linear dominance hierarchy as well as affiliative relationships between individuals in a group of 14 Goffin's cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana, formerly goffini)...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Carlos Pinto, Armando Machado
In temporal discriminations tasks, more than one stimulus may function as a time marker. We studied two of them in a matching-to-sample task, the sample keylight and the houselight that signaled the intertrial interval (ITI). One group of pigeons learned a symmetrical matching-to-sample task with two samples (2 s or 18 s of a center keylight) and two comparisons (red and green side keys), whereas another group of pigeons learned an asymmetrical matching-to-sample task with three samples (2 s, 6 s, and 18 s) and two comparisons (red and green)...
March 2017: Learning & Behavior
Scott H Deibel, Andrew B Lehr, Chelsea Maloney, Matthew L Ingram, Leanna M Lewis, Anne-Marie P Chaulk, Pam D Chaulk, Darlene M Skinner, Christina M Thorpe
It is difficult for rats to learn to go to an arm of a T-maze to receive food that is dependent on the time of day, unless the amount of food in each daily session is different. In the same task, rats show evidence of time-place discriminations if they are required to press levers in the arms of the T-maze, but learning is only evident when the first lever press is considered, and not the first arm visited. These data suggest that rats struggle to use time as a discriminative stimulus unless the rewards/events differ in some dimension, or unless the goal locations can be visited prior to making a response...
December 7, 2016: Learning & Behavior
Robert J McDonald, Scott H Deibel
This paper highlights a recent report by Roy and colleagues showing that boosting plasticity in synapses activated during initial memory encoding ameliorates memory impairments found in the early stages of the familial version of Alzheimer's disease. Our goal was to describe the main features of the report and evaluate the approach and implications of the work.
December 7, 2016: Learning & Behavior
Phil Reed
Two experiments examined acquisition of win-stay, win-shift, lose-stay, and lose-shift rules by which hungry rats could earn food reinforcement. In Experiment 1, two groups of rats were trained in a two-lever operant task that required them to follow either a win-stay/lose-shift or a win-shift/lose-stay contingency. The rates of acquisition of the individual rules within each contingency differed: lose-shift and lose-stay rules were acquired faster than win-stay and win-shift rules. Contrary to a number of previous reports, the win-shift rule was acquired less rapidly than any of the other rules...
December 2016: Learning & Behavior
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