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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
Jessica C Lee, Evan J Livesey
The prototype distortion task demonstrates that it is possible to learn about a category of physically similar stimuli through mere observation. However, there have been few attempts to test whether different encoding conditions affect learning in this task. This study compared prototypicality gradients produced under incidental learning conditions in which participants performed a visual search task, with those produced under intentional learning conditions in which participants were required to memorize the stimuli...
November 17, 2016: Learning & Behavior
Andrés Molero-Chamizo
Latent inhibition of conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is sensitive to changes in the temporal context. A change in the time of day of conditioning with respect to the time of day of the preexposure can disrupt the latent inhibition. This contextual change in the time of day may reveal a temporal specificity of latent inhibition. The optimum procedure to induce this temporal specificity is not well established. For example, it has been shown that a long period of habituation to temporal contexts is one factor that can determine the effect...
November 11, 2016: Learning & Behavior
Carina Giesen, Kerstin Scherdin, Klaus Rothermund
This study investigated whether vicarious feedback influences binding processes between stimuli and observed responses. Two participants worked together in a shared color categorization task, taking the roles of actor and observer in turns. During a prime trial, participants saw a word while observing the other person executing a specific response. Automatic binding of words and observed responses into stimulus-response (S-R) episodes was assessed via word repetition effects in a subsequent probe trial in which either the same (compatible) or a different (incompatible) response had to be executed by the participants in response to the same or a different word...
October 31, 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.
September 23, 2016: 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...
September 22, 2016: Learning & Behavior
Masashi Tsukamoto, Kenichiro Kohara, Koji Takeuchi
The within-trial contrast hypothesis (WTC) provides a more parsimonious explanation for the phenomenon that humans and animals prefer outcomes that follow more effortful events to outcomes that follow less effortful events (Zentall, 2013). We conducted two WTC experiments with human adults. In Experiment 1, we manipulated the difficulty of a preceding event by varying the interresponse time and the limited-hold interval during differential reinforcement with a low response rate schedule, to examine the effect of effort on the preference for the subsequent stimuli...
September 12, 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
Christopher N Templeton
Recent findings have indicated that European starlings perceive overall spectral shape and use this, rather than absolute pitch or timbre, to generalize between similar melodic progressions. This finding highlights yet another parallel between human and avian vocal communication systems and has many biological implications.
December 2016: 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...
September 7, 2016: Learning & Behavior
Vassilissa Dolivo, Claudia Rutte, Michael Taborsky
The reciprocal exchange of goods and services among social partners is a conundrum in evolutionary biology because of its proneness to cheating, but also the behavioral and cognitive mechanisms involved in such mutual cooperation are hotly debated. Extreme viewpoints range from the assumption that, at the proximate level, observed cases of "direct reciprocity" can be merely explained by basic instrumental and Pavlovian association processes, to the other extreme implying that "cultural factors" must be involved, as is often attributed to reciprocal cooperation among humans...
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
Nathan J Emery, Nicola S Clayton
An exciting new study on ravens by Bugnyar, Reber, and Buckner (2016) raises important questions about whether nonhuman animals are capable of simulating other minds, rather than theorizing about them.
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
Howard Eichenbaum
For nearly a century, neurobiologists have searched for the engram-the neural representation of a memory. Early studies showed that the engram is widely distributed both within and across brain areas and is supported by interactions among large networks of neurons. Subsequent research has identified engrams that support memory within dedicated functional systems for habit learning and emotional memory, but the engram for declarative memories has been elusive. Nevertheless, recent years have brought progress from molecular biological approaches that identify neurons and networks that are necessary and sufficient to support memory, and from recording approaches and population analyses that characterize the information coded by large neural networks...
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
W David Stahlman, Kenneth J Leising
Extensive research has shown that the variability of organismal behavior is great when contingent reinforcement is delayed, small, or improbable. This research has generally employed stable response-reinforcer relationships, and therefore is limited in its explanatory scope with respect to a dynamic environment. We conducted two experiments to investigate whether pigeons' conditioned pecking behavior shows anticipatory or perseverative patterns of behavioral variability when the reinforcement probability reliably changes within experimental sessions...
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
Anne Gast, Florian Kattner
Evaluative conditioning (EC) is a change in the valence of a conditioned stimulus (CS) due to previous pairing with an affective unconditioned stimulus (US). Several previous studies indicate that EC is related to memory of the CS-US pairs. Previous studies, however, typically cannot distinguish between the influence of CS-US knowledge during measurement and during encoding. In addition, by measuring rather than manipulating memory, they do not test the causal effect of memory on EC. The present study employed a "directed forgetting" procedure to the EC paradigm instructing participants to either forget or remember certain CS-US pairs...
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
Jennifer Vonk
Kano and Hirata (Current Biology, 25, 2513-2517, 2015) recently showed that apes process object and location information and anticipate the repeated presentation of such events in short film clips. Their methodology, using eyetracking, can provide a foundation for further explications of long-term prospective and episodic memory in nonverbal species.
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
Javier Bustamante, Metin Uengoer, Anna Thorwart, Harald Lachnit
In two human predictive-learning experiments, we investigated the effects of extinction in multiple contexts on the rate of extinction and the strength of response recovery. In each experiment, participants initially received acquisition training with a target cue in one context, followed by extinction either in a different context (extinction in a single context) or in three different contexts (extinction in multiple contexts). The results of both experiments showed that conducting extinction in multiple contexts led to higher levels of responding during extinction than did extinction in a single context...
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
K Marinka Gadzichowski, Kelly Kapalka, Robert Pasnak
A malamute-husky mixed-breed dog was trained to distinguish one object that differed from three others that were identical to each other. The dog progressed rapidly after an effective shaping procedure, requiring 37 training sessions to master 20 such problems to a criterion of 90 %. The dog subsequently scored 80 % correct on the first trials with new problems that required a reversal of previously correct choices. The dog then scored 70 % correct on his first trials with 20 new problems composed of entirely new objects...
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
Vladimir P Nikitin, Svetlana V Solntseva, Alexey V Shevelkin
Recent studies report that long-term memory retrieval can induce memory reconsolidation, and impairment of this reconsolidation might lead to amnesia. Previously, we found that reconsolidation of a conditioned food aversion memory could be disrupted by translation inhibitors for up to 3 h following a reconsolidation event, thus inducing amnesia. We examined the role of transcription processes in the induction of amnesia in the land snail, Helix lucorum. It received N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist and transcription inhibitor 2 days after learning in a neutral context environment; it was then transferred to the learning context followed by reminder with conditioned food stimulus...
September 2016: Learning & Behavior
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