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Learning & Behavior

Lucia Lazarowski, Jeffrey S Katz
Bray et al. (2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(32), 9128-9133) recently showed that maternal interactions between service dog mothers and their puppies were predictive of puppies' future success as a candidate service dog. These findings prompt questions into the role of genetics and early experiences and may provide useful selection tools for working dog breeding programs.
January 10, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Gonzalo Miguez, Bridget McConnell, Cody W Polack, Ralph R Miller
This report is part of a larger project examining associative interference as a function of the nature of the interfering and target associations. Lick suppression experiments with rats assessed the effects of context shifts on proactive outcome interference by latent inhibition (LI) and Pavlovian conditioned inhibition (CI) treatments on subsequently trained Pavlovian conditioned excitation treatment. LI and CI were trained in Context A during Phase 1, and then excitation treatment was administered in Context B during Phase 2, followed by tests for conditioned excitation in Contexts A, B, or C...
January 8, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Kristin French, Michael J Beran, Kimberly Andrews Espy, David A Washburn
Executive functions (EF) have been studied extensively in children and adults. However, EF tasks for young children can be difficult to administer and interpret. Espy (1997, Developmental Neuropsychology, 13, 495-499) designed the Shape School task to measure inhibition and switching in preschool-aged children. Shape School presents cartoon-like characters that children must flexibly name by their color, their shape, or both, depending on cues that indicate the appropriate rule. Shape School has been found to be age sensitive as well as predictive of performance on other EF tasks...
January 8, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Rodolfo Bernal-Gamboa, Javier Nieto, Metin Uengoer
Three experiments with rats investigated whether adding or removing elements of a context affects generalization of instrumental behavior. Each of the experiments used a free operant procedure. In Experiments 1 and 2, rats were trained to press a lever for food in a distinctive context. Then, transfer of lever pressing was tested in a context created either by adding an element to the context of initial acquisition or by removing one of the acquisition context's elements. In Experiment 3, a similar generalization test was conducted after rats received acquisition and extinction within the same context...
January 5, 2018: Learning & Behavior
Devina Wadhera, Lynn M Wilkie, Elizabeth D Capaldi-Phillips
Visual cues have an important role in food preference for both rats and humans. Here, we aim to isolate the effects of numerosity, density, and surface area on food preference and running speed in rats, by using a forced-choice maze paradigm. In Experiment 1, rats preferred and ran faster for a group of multiple smaller pellets rather than a single large pellet, corroborating previous research (Capaldi, Miller, & Alptekin Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 15(1), 75-80, 1989). Further experiments tested the prevailing hypothesis that multiple food pieces are more reinforcing because they occupy a larger surface area...
December 21, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Sydney Trask, Mark E Bouton
Recent evidence from this laboratory suggests that a context switch after operant learning consistently results in a decrement in responding. One way to reduce this decrement is to train the response in multiple contexts. One interpretation of this result, rooted in stimulus sampling theory, is that conditioning of a greater number of common stimulus elements arising from more contexts causes better generalization to new contexts. An alternative explanation is that each change of context causes more effortful retrieval, and practice involving effortful retrieval results in learning that is better able to transfer to new situations...
December 12, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Sezen Kislal, David A Blizard
We compared the rate of acquisition and strength of retention of conditioned context aversion (CCA) with conditioned taste aversion (CTA) using pigmented, genetically heterogeneous mice (derived from Large and Small strains). Extending previous findings, in Experiment 1, mice accustomed to drinking from large glass bottles in the colony room learned to avoid graduated tubes after a single conditioning trial when drinking from these novel tubes was paired with injections of LiCl. The results also showed that CCA could be developed even when there was a 30-minute delay between conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus...
November 9, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Sadahiko Nakajima
Running in an activity wheel generates pica behavior (kaolin clay intake) in rats. Wheel running also results in Pavlovian conditioned avoidance of the taste solution consumed immediately before the running. Since pica has been considered a behavioral marker of nausea in rats, these findings suggest that wheel running induces nausea, which is the underlying physiological state for establishing taste avoidance. This article reports a replication of running-based pica in rats (Experiment 1) and concurrent demonstrations of running-based pica and taste avoidance in the same animals (Experiments 2 and 3)...
November 9, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Sarah F Brosnan
One challenge of studying cognition and behavior in other species is designing studies that are intuitive and motivating to the subjects; studies that lack these features may result in false negatives and other outcomes that bias our understanding of animals' abilities and choices. Here, Schmelz, Grueneisen, Kabalak, Jost, and Tomasello (PNAS, 114(28), 7462-7467, 2017) investigated prosocial behavior, in which animals may make decisions that benefit a conspecific, and found that, contrary to much earlier work, when chimpanzees are given a reason to do so, they do make prosocial choices...
November 3, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Paul Craddock, Jessica S Wasserman, Cody W Polack, Thierry Kosinski, Charlotte Renaux, Ralph R Miller
Second-order conditioning (SOC; i.e., conditioned responding to S2 as a result of S1-US pairings followed by S2-S1 pairings) is generally explained by either a direct S2→US association or by an associative chain (i.e., S2→S1→US). Previous research found that differences in responses to S2 after S1 was extinguished often depended on the nature of the S2-S1 pairings (i.e., sequential or simultaneous). In two experiments with human participants, we examined the possibility that such differences result from S1 evoking S2 during extinction of S1 following simultaneous but not sequential S2-S1 pairings...
November 3, 2017: 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.
November 2, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Marcelo V Silveira, Harry A Mackay, Julio C de Rose
Seven participants received conditional discrimination training that established the 12 conditional relations A1B1, A2B2, A3B3, A1C1, A2C2, A3C3, D1E1, D2E2, D3E3, D1F1, D2F2, and D3F3. The A stimuli were pictures of faces portraying emotional expressions; the others were arbitrary forms. Correct responses resulted in presentations of class-specific reinforcers, Sr1, Sr2, and Sr3. After training, tests confirmed the formation of ABC and DEF equivalence classes. Further tests then documented the merger of the classes and the emergence of SrB, SrC, SrE, and SrF relations, showing that the class-specific reinforcers were equivalence class members...
October 25, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Peter C Holland
Prior exposure to a conditioned stimulus (CS) typically results in latent inhibition-slower acquisition of associative learning about that stimulus in subsequent training. Here, we found that CS preexposure had different effects on the appetitive conditioning of rats with a sucrose unconditioned stimulus (US) depending on training test procedures, the similarity of preexposure and training procedures, and the choice of response measure. Preexposure to a visual or an auditory stimulus produced facilitation of acquisition of food-cup-directed responding when both of those cues were (separately) paired with sucrose delivery in the training test (Experiments 1 and 3)...
October 19, 2017: Learning & Behavior
Tamal Roy, Anuradha Bhat
Given its diverse ecological distribution, zebrafish has great potential for investigations on the effect of habitat characteristics on cognition. Studies were conducted on four wild-caught zebrafish populations to understand the role of native habitat, sex, and body size in determining learning through a novel task associated with a food reward. The habitat variables, namely, the relative abundances of zebrafish and predatory fish and the substrate and vegetation diversity, were quantified during fish sampling...
October 19, 2017: 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...
September 22, 2017: Learning & Behavior
David Benhaïm, Sébastien Ferrari, Tatiana Colchen, Béatrice Chatain, Marie-Laure Bégout
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 2017: 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)...
August 24, 2017: 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...
August 8, 2017: 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.
August 4, 2017: 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...
August 4, 2017: Learning & Behavior
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