CCN meeting | Joah Madden (University of Exeter, UK)

07-02-2019 from 15:00 to 16:00
Henri Dunantlaan 2, room 4.4
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Measuring and interpreting the causes and consequences of behavioural inhibition in a non-human animal

Understanding why and when individuals stop conducting unrewarded behaviours or supress a prepotent action in order to gain (greater/deferred) benefits is a critical component of our conception of executive functions. Consequently, studies of inhibitory control or behavioural inhibition have attracted much attention. Putative measures of behavioural inhibition (BI) in non-human animals have become common as researchers seek to understand how cognitive processes involved in executive function have evolved. However, it is not clear how accurately or precisely these various assays capture BI. We have used pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) as a model system to explore the evolution of cognitive processes and as part of this work have used three very different methods to assess BI (detour task, deflection task, reversal task). I will describe how we conducted these measures, how susceptible each measure is to non-cognitive factors other than those of interest, how different rearing conditions may influence the expression of BI and what some consequences of individual variation in BI are for the survival of released pheasants.