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Learning & Behavior

Charlotte Duranton, Florence Gaunet
Behavioral synchronization is evolutionary adaptive, fostering social cohesion. In humans, affiliation between partners is associated with a high level of behavioral synchronization; people show increased affiliation towards people who synchronize with them. Surprisingly, until recently, little was known about these phenomena at an interspecific level, which is, however, essential to better understand the respective roles of evolution and ontogeny. After presenting why dog-human dyads are a relevant biological model to study this field of social cognition, we review the recent findings about dog-human behavioral synchronization...
April 30, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Satoshi Hirata
Crockford et al. (2017, Science Advances, 3(11), e1701742) conducted experimental studies in the wild in Africa to investigate the ability of chimpanzees to understand the mental states of other conspecific individuals. Their findings suggest that chimpanzees understand whether or not other individuals are aware of dangers, and they behave differently according to their understanding about the mental states of other individuals.
April 27, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Michael F Brown, Marie E Saxon, Kelsey A Heslin
Rats searched for food in a situation that allowed them to determine which locations contained food after searching a small number of them, but not which of the baited locations contained more-preferred food rather than a less-preferred food. During some experimental trials, the latter information was available from the choices of model rats making choices together with the subject rats, because some of the model rats tended to choose the locations baited with more-preferred food. On the surface, the results suggest that social influence specified the locations of more-preferred food to the subject rats...
March 21, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Onur Güntürkün, Charlotte Koenen, Fabrizio Iovine, Alexis Garland, Roland Pusch
We are surrounded by an endless variation of objects. The ability to categorize these objects represents a core cognitive competence of humans and possibly all vertebrates. Research on category learning in nonhuman animals started with the seminal studies of Richard Herrnstein on the category "human" in pigeons. Since then, we have learned that pigeons are able to categorize a large number of stimulus sets, ranging from Cubist paintings to English orthography. Strangely, this prolific field has largely neglected to also study the avian neurobiology of categorization...
March 12, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Cameron M Bye, Nancy S Hong, Kevin Moore, Scott H Deibel, Robert J McDonald
The Morris water maze is a popular task for examining spatial navigation and memory in rats. Historically, emphasis has been put on extramaze cues as the primary environmental feature guiding navigation and spatial memory formation. However, other features of the environment may also be involved. In this experiment, we trained rats on the spatial version of the Morris water maze over four days. A probe test was given 24 h after training, in which the shape of the pool either remained the same as during training or was changed to a different shape...
March 8, 2018: Learning & Behavior
S L Wright, G M Martin, C M Thorpe, K Haley, D M Skinner
Across three experiments, we examined the cuing properties of metric (distance and direction) and nonmetric (lighting) cues in different tasks. In Experiment 1, rats were trained on a response problem in a T-maze, followed by four reversals. Rats that experienced a change in maze orientation (Direction group) or a change in the length of the start arm (Distance group) across reversals showed facilitation of reversal learning relative to a group that experienced changes in room lighting across reversals. In Experiment 2, rats learned a discrimination task more readily when distance or direction cues were used than when light cues were used as the discriminative stimuli...
March 5, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Anthony A Wright, Debbie M Kelly, Jeffrey S Katz
This article describes an approach for training a variety of species to learn the abstract concept of same/different, which in turn forms the basis for testing proactive interference and list memory. The stimulus set for concept-learning training was progressively doubled from 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 . . . to 1,024 different pictures with novel-stimulus transfer following learning. All species fully learned the same/different abstract concept: capuchin and rhesus monkeys learned more readily than pigeons; nutcrackers and magpies were at least equivalent to monkeys and transferred somewhat better following initial training sets...
February 28, 2018: Learning & Behavior
David J Pritchard, Susan D Healy
Navigation is an essential skill for many animals, and understanding how animal use environmental information, particularly visual information, to navigate has a long history in both ethology and psychology. In birds, the dominant approach for investigating navigation at small-scales comes from comparative psychology, which emphasizes the cognitive representations underpinning spatial memory. The majority of this work is based in the laboratory and it is unclear whether this context itself affects the information that birds learn and use when they search for a location...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Noam Miller
Sasaki and Biro (2017, Nature Communications, 8, 15049) show that pairs of pigeons can increase the efficiency of their homing routes over several 'generations' in which pair members are gradually replaced by naïve birds. Their findings show that socially transmitted cumulative alterations of behavior are not unique to humans and suggest a way to examine potential mechanisms of cultural evolution.
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Phil Reed
Hungry rats were trained in a two-lever conditioning chamber to earn food reinforcement according to either a win-shift/lose-stay or a win-stay/lose-shift contingency. Performance on the two contingencies was similar when there was little delay between the initial, information part of the trial (i.e., win or lose) and the choice portion of the trial (i.e., stay or shift with respect to the lever presented in the information stage). However, when a delay between the information and choice portions of the trial was introduced, subjects experiencing the win-shift/lose-stay contingency performed worse than subjects experiencing the alternative contingency...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Regina Paxton Gazes, Alison R Billas, Vanessa Schmitt
Quantity discrimination abilities are seen in a diverse range of species with similarities in performance patterns, suggesting common underlying cognitive mechanisms. However, methodological factors that impact performance make it difficult to draw broad phylogenetic comparisons of numerical cognition across studies. For example, some Old World monkeys selected a higher quantity stimulus more frequently when choosing between inedible (pebbles) than edible (food) stimuli. In Experiment 1 we presented brown capuchin (Cebus [Sapajus] paella) and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) with the same two-choice quantity discrimination task in three different stimulus conditions: edible, inedible, and edible replaced (in which choice stimuli were food items that stood in for the same quantity of food items that were given as a reward)...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Lanny Fields
Using trial-and-error training, eight pigeons did not learn to discriminate between 45° and 135° lines, but did learn to discriminate between red and green colors. Control by line tilt was induced by stimulus fading that did not include reinforcement while fading out the colors. After establishing the red-green discrimination, low-intensity lines were superimposed on colors and were gradually faded in. All of this was done using reinforcement. At the end of the line fade-in, the lines had not acquired control of responding...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Kristin Andrews
Apes can correctly determine how to help a person with a false belief. But they may not need a concept of belief to do so.
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Joël Fagot, Raphaelle Malassis, Tiphaine Medam
When trained to associate Stimulus A to Stimulus B, humans can derive the untrained symmetrical B to A relation while nonhuman animals have much more difficulties. Urcuioli (2008, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 90, 257--282; 2015, Conductal, 3, 4--25) proposed that the apparent difficulty of animals in symmetry testing reflects their double encoding of the information on the stimuli (identity and relation) and their positional (i.e., spatial and temporal/ordinal) characteristics. This comparative study tested the emergence of symmetry in humans and baboons in a task in which the position of the stimuli was manipulated independently of their relation...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Luís Gonzalo De la Casa, Auxiliadora Mena, Juán Carlos Ruiz-Salas, Esperanza Quintero, Mauricio R Papini
Three experiments explored the link between reward shifts and latent inhibition (LI). Using consummatory procedures, rewards were either downshifted from 32% to 4% sucrose (Experiments 1-2), or upshifted from 4% to 32% sucrose (Experiment 3). In both cases, appropriate unshifted controls were also included. LI was implemented in terms of fear conditioning involving a single tone-shock pairing after extensive tone-only preexposure. Nonpreexposed controls were also included. Experiment 1 demonstrated a typical LI effect (i...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
William Rodríguez, Arturo Bouzas, Vladimir Orduña
Previous research has extensively evaluated the impact of delay on the value of positive reinforcers, but the study of its impact on the value of aversive consequences is scarce. The present study employed a modification of Evenden and Ryan's procedure (1996, Psychopharmacology, 128(2), 161-170) to obtain data on temporal discounting of an aversive consequence, with rats as experimental subjects. In the first phase of the procedure, rats chose between one-pellet and four-pellet alternatives; when subjects developed preference for the larger-amount alternative, a shock was added to it, resulting in a loss of preference...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Metin Uengoer, John M Pearce, Harald Lachnit, Stephan Koenig
In three experiments, we investigated the contextual control of attention in human discrimination learning. In each experiment, participants initially received discrimination training in which the cues from Dimension A were relevant in Context 1 but irrelevant in Context 2, whereas the cues from Dimension B were irrelevant in Context 1 but relevant in Context 2. In Experiment 1, the same cues from each dimension were used in Contexts 1 and 2, whereas in Experiments 2 and 3, the cues from each dimension were changed across contexts...
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Mandyam V Srinivasan
Animal navigation has fascinated biologists and engineers for centuries, and some of the most illuminating discoveries have come from the study of creatures with a brain no larger than a sesame seed. In an elegant recent study, Pfeiffer and Wittlinger (Science, 353, 1155-1157, 2016) have shown the means by which desert ants, carried from one nest to another by a relative, find their own way back home if they are accidentally dropped en route.
March 2018: Learning & Behavior
Metin Uengoer, Sara Lucke, Harald Lachnit
According to the attentional theory of context processing (ATCP), learning becomes context specific when acquired under conditions that promote attention toward contextual stimuli regardless of whether attention deployment is guided by learning experience or by other factors unrelated to learning. In one experiment with humans, we investigated whether performance in a predictive learning task can be brought under contextual control by means of a secondary task that was unrelated to predictive learning, but supposed to modulate participants' attention toward contexts...
February 20, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Irene M Pepperberg
Nonhuman tool use is no longer questioned; the issues now are whether such use is mostly inflexible and innately specified or involves experience, innovation, adaptation, and cognitive planning, and how many species qualify. Habl and Auersperg (PLoS One, 12(11):e0186859, 2017) have shown that some Goffin's cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) respond in novel ways to a tool-use task that nonhuman primates and young children find somewhat challenging.
February 15, 2018: Learning & Behavior
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