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Investigating fear in rainbow trout ( Oncorhynchus mykiss ) using the conditioned-suppression paradigm

By S. Yue, I. J. H. Duncan, R. D. Moccia

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Trout learned the operant task of pendulum-pressing for a food-reward in a mean of 4.3 sessions lasting 1 hr. In a separate phase, fish also learned - through classical conditioning - to associate a neutral light cue with an aversive stimulus. When again allowed to pendulum-press for food, after aversive classical conditioning, there was a drop in the rate of responding. The mean rate dropped from 3.6-2.9 responses per min. Most important, when the light-stimulus was superimposed on a steady bout of pendulum-pressing, trout ceased to press the pendulum and did not resume activity until termination of the light-stimulus (mean number of responses during a 3-min interval immediately prior to light-stimulus=14.3 vs. during 3-min light-stimulus=0.1). Psychologists have used this decrease in operant responding, or "conditioned emotional response," as a tool to examine the psychological nature of this type of aversive conditioning. In this study, the fish demonstrated various results under this paradigm similar to those shown by "higher" nonhuman animals, therefore challenging the view of fish as unconscious, nonsentient animals.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 11
Issue 1
Pages 14-27
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888700701729106
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Aquacultural and fisheries
  6. Aquatic organisms
  7. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  8. Fear
  9. Fish
  10. Learning ability
  11. Learning capacity
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed