Concept learning and the use of three common psychophysical paradigms in the archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)

Newport, Cait, Wallis, Guy and Siebeck, Ulrike E. (2014) Concept learning and the use of three common psychophysical paradigms in the archerfish (Toxotes chatareus). Frontiers in Neural Circuits, 8 APR: 1-13. doi:10.3389/fncir.2014.00039


Author Newport, Cait
Wallis, Guy
Siebeck, Ulrike E.
Title Concept learning and the use of three common psychophysical paradigms in the archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)
Formatted title
Concept learning and the use of three common psychophysical paradigms in the archerfish (Toxotes chatareus)
Journal name Frontiers in Neural Circuits   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1662-5110
Publication date 2014-04-24
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3389/fncir.2014.00039
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 8
Issue APR
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Place of publication Lausanne, Switzerland
Publisher Frontiers Research Foundation
Language eng
Abstract Archerfish are well known for their specialized hunting technique of spitting water at prey located above the water line. This unique ability has made them a popular focus of study as researchers try to understand the mechanisms involved in targeting and spitting. In more recent years, archerfish have also become an increasingly popular model for studying visual discrimination and learning in general. Until now, only the alternative forced-choice (AFC) task has been used with archerfish, however, they may be capable of learning other classical discrimination tasks. As well as providing alternative, and potentially more efficient, means for testing their visual capabilities, these other tasks may also provide deeper insight into the extent to which an organism with no cortex can grasp the concepts underlying these tasks. In this paper, we consider both the matched-to-sample (MTS) and the odd-one-out (OOO) tasks as they require the subject to learn relatively sophisticated concepts rather than a straight, stimulus-reward relationship, of the kind underlying AFC tasks. A variety of line drawings displayed on a monitor were used as stimuli. We first determined if archerfish could complete the MTS and OOO test and then evaluated their ability to be retrained to new stimuli using a 4-AFC test. We found that archerfish were unable to learn the MTS and had only a limited capacity for learning the OOO task. We conclude that the MTS and OOO are impractical as paradigms for behavioral experiments with archerfish. However, the archerfish could rapidly learn to complete an AFC test and select the conditioned stimulus with a high degree of accuracy when faced with four stimuli, making this a powerful test for behavioral studies testing visual discrimination. In addition, the fish were able to learn the concept of oddity under particular training circumstances. This paper adds to the growing evidence that animals without a cortex are capable of learning some higher order concepts.
Keyword Alternative forced-choice
Behavior
Matched-to-sample
Odd-one-out
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article # 39

 
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