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Animal Cognition

Pizza Ka Yee Chow, Stephen E G Lea, Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, Théo Robert
Inhibiting learned behaviours when they become unproductive and searching for an alternative solution to solve a familiar but different problem are two indicators of flexibility in problem solving. A wide range of animals show these tendencies spontaneously, but what kind of search process is at play behind their problem-solving success? Here, we investigated how Eastern grey squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis, solved a modified mechanical problem that required them to abandon their preferred and learned solution and search for alternative solutions to retrieve out-of-reach food rewards...
April 11, 2019: Animal Cognition
Andrey Giljov, Yegor Malashichev, Karina Karenina
Two brain hemispheres are unequally involved in the processing of social stimuli, as demonstrated in a wide range of vertebrates. A considerable number of studies have shown the right hemisphere advantage for social processing. At the same time, an approach-withdrawal hypothesis, mainly based on experimental evidence, proposes the involvement of both brain hemispheres according to approach and withdrawal motivation. The present study aimed to test the relative roles of the two hemispheres in social responses displayed in a natural context...
April 8, 2019: Animal Cognition
Simon Ducatez, Jean-Nicolas Audet, Louis Lefebvre
Performance on different cognitive tasks varies between individuals within species. Recent evidence suggests that, in some species, this variation reflects the existence of coherent cognitive strategies bringing together positive and negative relationships between tasks. For example, Carib grackles show a speed-accuracy trade-off, where individuals that are fast at solving novel problems make more errors at discrimination learning than individuals that are slow solvers. Pathogens are thought to play a major role in shaping variation in cognition, either because different cognitive strategies lead to differential exposure to pathogens, or because investment in cognitive abilities is costly, limiting the ability to invest in anti-pathogen responses...
March 30, 2019: Animal Cognition
Thomas R Zentall, Daniel Peng, Luke Miles
In the five-term, transitive inference task used with animals, pigeons are trained on four simultaneous discrimination premise pairs: A + B -, B + C -, C + D -, D + E -. Typically, when tested with the BD pair, most pigeons show a transitive inference effect, choosing B over D. Two non-inferential hypotheses have been proposed to account for this effect but neither has been reliably supported by research. Here we test a third non-inferential hypothesis that the preference for B arises because the animals have not had as much experience with B - in the A + B - discrimination as they have had with the D - in the C + D - discrimination...
March 29, 2019: Animal Cognition
Patricia Sampedro-Piquero, M Carmen Mañas-Padilla, Fabiola Ávila-Gámiz, Sara Gil-Rodríguez, Luis J Santín, Estela Castilla-Ortega
The classic hole-board paradigm (a square arena with 16 holes arranged equidistantly in a 4 × 4 pattern) assesses both exploration and spatial memory in rodents. For spatial memory training, food rewards are hidden in a fixed set of holes. The animal must not visit (i.e. nose-poke) the holes that are never baited (reference memory; RM) nor re-visit a baited hole within a session (working memory; WM). However, previous exploratory bias may affect performance during reward searching. During habituation sessions with either all holes rewarded or all holes empty, mice intrinsically preferred poking peripheral holes (especially those located in the maze's corners) over centre holes...
March 9, 2019: Animal Cognition
A Louise de Raad, Russell A Hill
Many species orient towards specific locations to reach important resources using different cognitive mechanisms. Some of these, such as path integration, are now well understood, but the cognitive orientation mechanisms that underlie movements in non-human primates remain the subject of debate. To investigate whether movements of chacma baboons are more consistent with Euclidean or topological spatial awareness, we investigated whether baboons made repeated use of the same network of pathways and tested three predictions resulting from the hypothesized use of Euclidean and topological spatial awareness...
March 9, 2019: Animal Cognition
Tyrone Lucon-Xiccato, Maria Santacà, Maria Elena Miletto Petrazzini, Christian Agrillo, Marco Dadda
Animals are often required to estimate object sizes during several fitness-related activities, such as choosing mates, foraging, and competing for resources. Some species are susceptible to size illusions, i.e. the misperception of the size of an object based on the surrounding context, but other species are not. This interspecific variation might be adaptive, reflecting species-specific selective pressures; according to this hypothesis, it is important to test species in which size discrimination has a notable ecological relevance...
March 8, 2019: Animal Cognition
Amritha Mallikarjun, Emily Shroads, Rochelle S Newman
Like humans, canine companions often find themselves in noisy environments, and are expected to respond to human speech despite potential distractors. Such environments pose particular problems for young children, who have limited linguistic knowledge. Here, we examined whether dogs show similar difficulties. We found that dogs prefer their name to a stress-matched foil in quiet conditions, despite hearing it spoken by a novel talker. They continued to prefer their name in the presence of multitalker human speech babble at signal-to-noise levels as low as 0 dB, when their name was the same intensity as the foil...
March 8, 2019: Animal Cognition
Jonathon Dunn, Clare Andrews, Daniel Nettle, Melissa Bateson
Impulsivity-the extent to which a reward is devalued by the amount of time until it is realized-can be affected by an individual's current energetic state and long-term developmental history. In European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), a previous study found that birds that were lighter for their skeletal size, and birds that had undergone greater shortening of erythrocyte telomeres over the course of development, were more impulsive as adults. Here, we studied the impulsivity of a separate cohort of 29 starlings hand-reared under different combinations of food amount and begging effort...
March 6, 2019: Animal Cognition
Océane Schmitt, Keelin O'Driscoll, Emma M Baxter
The present study investigated the effects of intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR, score 0-3; i.e., "normal" to "severe") level at birth, and the effects of neonatal energy supplementation (dosed with 2 ml of coconut oil, commercial product or water, or sham-dosed), on post-weaning cognitive abilities of low birth-weight piglets (< 1.1 kg). In total, 184 piglets were recruited at weaning (27 ± 0.1 days) for habituation to the test procedures, and were either tested for spatial learning and memory in a T-maze (n = 42; 37 ± 0...
February 28, 2019: Animal Cognition
Sarah E Daniels, Rachel E Fanelli, Amy Gilbert, Sarah Benson-Amram
Innovative problem solving, repeated innovation, learning, and inhibitory control are cognitive abilities commonly regarded as important components of behaviorally flexible species. Animals exhibiting these cognitive abilities may be more likely to adapt to the unique demands of living in novel and rapidly changing environments, such as urbanized landscapes. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are an abundant, generalist species frequently found in urban habitats, and are capable of innovative problem solving, which makes them an ideal species to assess their behavioral flexibility...
February 25, 2019: Animal Cognition
A Lemasson, V André, M Boudard, D Lippi, H Cousillas, M Hausberger
"Audience effect" is the influence of an audience size or composition on the emotional state of a public speaker. One characteristic of the audience which has received little attention is the spatial position of observers. We tested the influence of three positions (frontal, bi-frontal, and quadri-frontal) on actors and spectators' emotions in real theatrical representations. Measurements consisted in self-report questionnaires and galvanic skin responses. The layout of the theatre hall influenced both cognitive and physiological components of emotions...
February 20, 2019: Animal Cognition
Michael H Ferkin
For a scent mark to be informative it must provide a reliable, honest signal that allows individuals that detect it to predict fitness tradeoffs if they choose or not choose to respond to it. I argue that scent marks provide a great deal of information about the sender to receivers. The manner in which an animal uses this information to make decisions will depend on the context and manner in which it encounters these scent marks. Receivers can use the information found in the scent marks and odors to locate the donor, learn its identity, determine the donor's phenotype or genotype, and assess whether the scent marks were encountered earlier by conspecifics...
February 18, 2019: Animal Cognition
F B Oberhauser, A Schlemm, S Wendt, T J Czaczkes
Foraging animals use a variety of information sources to navigate, such as memorised views or odours associated with a goal. Animals frequently use different information sources concurrently, to increase navigation accuracy or reliability. While much research has focussed on conflicts between individually learned (private) information and social information, conflicts between private information sources have been less broadly studied. Here, we investigate such a conflict by pitting route memory against associative odour cue learning in the ant Lasius niger...
February 15, 2019: Animal Cognition
Alexis J Breen, Clémence C Bonneaud, Susan D Healy, Lauren M Guillette
One source of public information may be the enduring products of others' behaviour, such as discarded tools or vacated nests. Here, we examined whether observation of a nest affects the material captive zebra finch males prefer when they construct their first nest. It does: for first-time nest construction, males that viewed only an empty cage preferred the colour of material each initially favoured but those males that had observed a pre-built nest of material of their non-preferred colour lost their material-colour preference altogether...
February 14, 2019: Animal Cognition
Emily Kathryn Brown, Benjamin M Basile, Victoria L Templer, Robert R Hampton
Some nonhuman species demonstrate metamemory, the ability to monitor and control memory. Here, we identify memory signals that control metamemory judgments in rhesus monkeys by directly comparing performance in two metamemory paradigms while holding the availability of one memory signal constant and manipulating another. Monkeys performed a four-choice match-to-sample memory task. In Experiment 1, monkeys could decline memory tests on some trials for a small, guaranteed reward. In Experiment 2, monkeys could review the sample on some trials...
February 14, 2019: Animal Cognition
Julie A Teichroeb, Alexander Q Vining
Humans generally solve multi-destination routes with simple rules-of-thumb. Animals may do the same, but strong evidence is limited to a few species. We examined whether strepsirrhines, who diverged from haplorhines more than 58 mya, would demonstrate the use of three heuristics used by humans and supported in vervets, the nearest neighbor rule, the convex hull, and a cluster strategy, when solving a multi-destination route. We hypothesized that the evolution of these strategies may depend on a species' dietary specialization...
February 13, 2019: Animal Cognition
Birgit Szabo, Daniel W A Noble, Martin J Whiting
Response inhibition (inhibiting prepotent responses) is needed for reaching a more favourable goal in situations where reacting automatically would be detrimental. Inhibiting prepotent responses to resist the temptation of a stimulus in certain situations, such as a novel food item, can directly affect an animal's survival. In humans and dogs, response inhibition varies between contexts and between individuals. We used two contextually different experiments to investigate response inhibition in the eastern water skink (Eulamprus quoyii): reversal of a visual two-choice discrimination and a cylinder detour task...
February 1, 2019: Animal Cognition
Zhanna Reznikova, Sofia Panteleeva, Nataliya Vorobyeva
Applying the classical experimental scheme of training animals with food rewards to discriminate between quantities of visual stimuli, we demonstrated that not only can striped field mice Apodemus agrarius discriminate between clearly distinctive quantities such as 5 and 10, but some of these mice also exhibit high accuracy in discriminating between quantities that differ only by one. The latter include both small (such as 2 versus 3) and relatively large (such as 5 versus 6, and 8 versus 9) quantities of elements...
February 1, 2019: Animal Cognition
Justin M Bridgeman, Glenn J Tattersall
The capability of animals to alter their behaviour in response to novel or familiar stimuli, or behavioural flexibility, is strongly associated with their ability to learn in novel environments. Reptiles are capable of learning complex tasks and offer a unique opportunity to study the relationship between visual proficiency and behavioural flexibility. The focus of this study was to investigate the behavioural flexibility of red-footed tortoises and their ability to perform reversal learning. Reversal learning involves learning a particular discrimination task, after which the previously rewarded cue is reversed and then subjects perform the task with new reward contingencies...
February 1, 2019: Animal Cognition
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