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Simple discrimination reversals in the domestic horse ( Equus caballus ): effect of discriminative stimulus modality on learning to learn

By T. I. Martin, T. R. Zentall, L. Lawrence

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Abstract

The cognitive capacity of an organism, relative to that of other species, can be assessed by using a relative measure of learning. One such measure is the ability of an organism to learn about the reversal of a discrimination. The present study compared the performance of two groups of horses on a simple discrimination reversal task when the only difference between the groups was the modality of the relevant cue. For the visual group (absence or presence of a light), the spatial position was irrelevant. For the spatial group, a spatial cue (left/right) was available and the visual cue was irrelevant. Horses in the spatial group learned the original discrimination and six reversals; they also showed evidence of learning to learn. Horses in the visual group did not reach criterion during the study. As a result, there was no evidence of learning to learn.

Date 2006
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 101
Issue 3/4
Pages 328-338
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0044, USA. tracy92870@yahoo.com
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Cognition
  3. Horses
  4. Learning
  5. Learning ability
  6. Learning capacity
  7. Mammals
  8. Mental development
  9. peer-reviewed
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  1. peer-reviewed