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Learning & Behavior

Chana K Akins
Social learning has a large impact on fitness by reducing the costs and dangers associated with independent learning but little research has been conducted to investigate the ontogeny or individual development of this type of learning. Recent research indicated that puppies demonstrate social learning to both conspecific and human demonstrators, but were also more likely to learn better from an unfamiliar conspecific compared to their mother.
September 17, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Alan B Bond
The snake alarm call of Japanese tits prompts nesting adults to search for and mob the reptile until it is driven away. From playback experiments, Suzuki (2018) has inferred that the call provides an associative cue, evoking a searching image of the salient visual features of the predator-a novel approach to exploring visual attention and vocal communication in the wild.
September 17, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Benjamin Keep, Helen E Zulch, Anna Wilkinson
Visual illusions are objects that are made up of elements that are arranged in such a way as to result in erroneous perception of the objects' physical properties. Visual illusions are used to study visual perception in humans and nonhuman animals, since they provide insight into the psychological and cognitive processes underlying the perceptual system. In a set of three experiments, we examined whether dogs were able to learn a relational discrimination and to perceive the Müller-Lyer illusion. In Experiment 1, dogs were trained to discriminate line lengths using a two-alternative forced choice procedure on a touchscreen...
September 5, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Maximilian B L Cordony, Julie Y L Chow, Robert A Boakes
When laboratory rats are given repeated access to an activity wheel, the amount that they run steadily increases. This suggests an analogy with drug dependency in animals and humans, in that this is marked by both increasing intakes of the drug and increasing motivation to obtain the drug (craving). This analogy was examined by measuring motivation to obtain an opportunity to run using a progressive ratio (PR) schedule, whereby the number of lever presses required to release a brake on an activity wheel was increased progressively...
August 21, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Emily Cole, Amanda Simundic, Frank P Mossa, Dave G Mumby
Studies of object-recognition memory in lab rats began in the late 1980s, using variants of the trial-unique delayed nonmatching-to-sample (DNMS) task. By the end of the 20th century, most investigators who wanted to study object-recognition in rodents had abandoned the DNMS task in favor of the novel-object-preference (NOP) test, mainly because the latter test is relatively easy to employ, whereas conventional DNMS tasks are not. Some concerns have been raised, however, about the internal validity of the NOP test as a method of measuring object-recognition abilities...
August 21, 2018: Learning & Behavior
A J Tierney, A Baker, J Forward, C Slight, H Yilma
Previous studies have demonstrated that animals use both environmental cues and egocentric information when orienting in mazes or nature. These two strategies have been examined separately in some species, yielding information on the specific properties associated with each. We examined spatial learning in crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) using an apparatus that required animals to orient under four different conditions: using egocentric (response) cues alone, response cues with inconsistent external (place) cues present, place cues with inconsistent response cues present, and place cues with consistent response cues present...
August 20, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Jonathan K Fernand, Haleh Amanieh, David J Cox, Nicole R Dorey
The reverse-reward contingency (RRC) task involves presenting subjects with a choice between one plate containing a large amount of food and a second plate containing a small amount of food. Subjects are then required to select the smaller of the two options in order to receive the larger-magnitude reward. The RRC task is a commonly used paradigm for assessing complex cognition, such as inhibitory control, in subjects. To date, the RRC task has not been tested with pet dogs as subjects, and it may provide insights to their ability to perceive quantities of differing magnitudes...
August 17, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Angie M Johnston, Yiyun Huang, Laurie R Santos
Human children and domesticated dogs learn from communicative cues, such as pointing, in highly similar ways. In two experiments, we investigate whether dogs are biased to defer to these cues in the same way as human children. We tested dogs on a cueing task similar to one previously conducted in human children. Dogs received conflicting information about the location of a treat from a Guesser and a Knower, who either used communicative cues (i.e., pointing; Experiments 1 and 2), non-communicative physical cues (i...
August 15, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Victoria L Templer
Two widely studied and impressive cognitive feats in nonhuman animals, metacognition and tool use, both require the cognitive tools of monitoring and controlling knowledge states and adaptive actions toward desirable outcomes. In a recent study, Perdue, Evans, and Beran (PLoS ONE, 13(4), e0193229, 2018) found that some chimpanzees used tools to selectively acquire information and make inferences, indicating metacognitive awareness and appropriate use of tools depending on the content of those knowledge states...
August 15, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Jim McGetrick, Friederike Range
The study of inequity aversion in animals debuted with a report of the behaviour in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). This report generated many debates following a number of criticisms. Ultimately, however, the finding stimulated widespread interest, and multiple studies have since attempted to demonstrate inequity aversion in various other non-human animal species, with many positive results in addition to many studies in which no response to inequity was found. Domestic dogs represent an interesting case as, unlike many primates, they do not respond negatively to inequity in reward quality but do, however, respond negatively to being unrewarded in the presence of a rewarded partner...
August 13, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Thomas R Zentall
Panoz-Brown et al. (Current Biology, 28, 1628-1634, 2018) present evidence to support the hypothesis that rats can replay their episode memory to determine which of a series of odors was at a particular location in the sequence. They also show that the hippocampus is likely involved in allowing the rats to replay those memories.
August 13, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Sydney Trask
In resurgence, a target behavior (R1) is acquired in an initial phase and extinguished in a second phase while an R2 behavior is reinforced. When R2 is extinguished, R1 behavior can return or resurge. Two experiments tested the effectiveness of a potential retrieval cue associated with extinction in attenuating resurgence. Experiment 1 established that a 2-s cue paired with outcome delivery in Phase 2 can attenuate resurgence when presented during testing. This effect depended on the cue being associated with the outcome, and it occurred if the cue was delivered contingently or noncontingently on responding during testing...
July 27, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Emily M Sanford, Emma R Burt, Julia E Meyers-Manor
Dogs are thought to evaluate humans' emotional states, and attend more to crying people than to humming people. However, it is unclear whether dogs would go beyond focusing attention on humans in need by providing more substantive help to them. This study used a trapped-other paradigm, modified from use in research on rats, to study prosocial helping in dogs. A human trapped behind a door either cried or hummed, and the dog's behavioral and physiological responses (i.e., door opening and heart rate variability) were recorded...
July 23, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Orsolya Kiss, Krisztina Kovács, Flóra Szánthó, József Topál
This study investigates whether dogs are able to differentiate between people according to whether or not they show similarities to their owners. We hypothesized that dogs would show a preference for the "similar" partner when interacting with unfamiliar humans. After having familiarized with two experimenters displaying different degrees of similarity to their owners, dogs (N = 36) participated in a situation where the desired toy object was made inaccessible in order to find out whether they initiate interaction with the two partners differently...
July 18, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Tom V Smulders
Wild Australian magpies living (or growing up) in larger social groups take fewer trials to solve a battery of four cognitive tests than those living (or growing up) in smaller groups. The tests all draw on a common underlying factor, but is this factor cognitive or motivational?
July 10, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Ludwig Huber, Natálie Popovová, Sabine Riener, Kaja Salobir, Giulia Cimarelli
Companion dogs learn easily from humans, including human behavior, human communication, and some aspects of the human-made environment. They benefit from having the opportunity to learn from humans and are able to spontaneously synchronize their behavior with that of their caregiver. Here, we tested whether pet dogs would show a special form of observational learning, one that has been considered uniquely human. Indeed, humans show overimitation, the faithful copying of causally irrelevant actions, but great apes do not...
July 6, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Monique A R Udell
Domestic dogs have become well known for their socio-cognitive successes, so what does it mean when domestic dogs fail to cooperate? A new study by Marshall-Pescini, Schwarz, Kostelnik, Virányi, and Range (PNAS, 114(44) 11793-11798, 2017) highlights the importance of considering socioecological context, learning, and relationship quality when evaluating the social cognition of dogs and wolves.
July 6, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Jonathan D Lane
Five decades ago, Dmitry Belyaev, Lyudmila Trut, and colleagues began a now-famous experiment, selectively breeding foxes based on one criterion: perceived tame behavior. Over generations, the fox population changed in behavior (as predicted) but, intriguingly, also changed markedly in appearance-for example, many had wider mouths, curlier tails, different fur coloring, and floppy ears. These researchers concluded that the morphological changes that appeared in their foxes were a by-product of the researchers' selecting for genetic variants that are implicated both in behavior and in appearance...
July 2, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Jennifer Vonk
Hirata, Fuwa, and Myowa (Royal Society Open Science, 4; 170370, 2017) extended to chimpanzee subjects a paradigm that had been developed by Povinelli and colleagues (Povinelli, Landau, Child Development, 67; 1540-1554, 1996; Perilloux, Povinelli & Simon, Developmental Psychology, 34, 188-194, 1998) to demonstrate the concept of self-continuity in young children. However, Hirata and colleagues lacked critical controls that would have allowed the conclusion that some of their chimpanzees recognized themselves in the time-delayed videos...
September 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.
September 2018: Learning & Behavior
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