A relatively permanent change in behavior as a result of experience
The bryozoan Membranipora membranacea
In colonies they lack spines unless exposed to predatory cues, when it will grow spines quickly
Flushing behavior in birds
Birds flap their wings to get insects to come out from under cover. They experimentally found that this is an innate phenotypic plasticity, not a learned one
3 types of experiences that result in learning
1) single stimulus
2) stimulus- stimulus
3) response- reinforcer
Learning from a Single-Stimulus Experience
The stimulus can take any form (habituation and sensitization are examples)
Pavlovian (Classical) Conditioning
pairing a stimulus (US) that has a natural response with another stimulus (CS) to make the CS illicit the response of the US (CR)
Any stimulus that is positive, pleasant, or rewarding
Any stimulus that is unpleasant
produced by positive relationships - relationships where the CS predicts an event will occur
produced by negative relationships - relationships where the CS predicts an event won't occur
an additional stimulus has made it more difficult to learn (one "overshadows" the other in the learning process)
Learning one stimulus first makes it less likely to associate the other with the same thing
learning is stunted when the CS is presented and learned first without the US, so it takes longer for a conditioned response to occur
Instrumental (Operant) Conditioning
occurs when a response made by an animal is reinforced by reward or punishment. The animal must undertake some action or response in order for the conditioning process to produce learning.
Cats in puzzle boxes
Thorndike tested operant conditioning by putting cats in puzzle boxes. When the cats were put in they would move around and eventually hit the thing that would release them. With experience, the cats would start hitting the thing more quickly.
Law of Effect
if a response in the presence of a stimulus is followed by a satisfying event, the association between the stimulus and the response will be strengthened. Skinner then took this further to make the actions measurable.
Rats were able to make some pairings more readily than others (gustatory cues with gustatory responses, visual cues with visual responses, but not when they were crossed). Garcia and Koelling explained this using an adaptationist stance, it would be beneficial to pair a bad taste with vomiting for instance. Also found that a time period could lapse and correlated things would still be paired (this is also evolutionarily beneficial)
Optimal Forgetting in Stomatopods
Memory plays an intrinsic role in learning. Looked at extinction curves and found how long animals will pair things. there is likely an optimal forgetting period dictated by natural selection (though, there are constraints to the optimum - neurological and such). Stomatopods remember their mate while the brood are guarded by the females and then either forget them or pretend to/ignore them (as seen by the amount of aggression)
Learning, Foraging, and Group Living in Doves
Found that the birds that live in groups solve tasks more quickly than solitary doves, and this got more pronounced as the tasks got more difficult. 2 possible explanations: 1) The animals already differed in foraging experience 2) Natural selection may have operated on learning ability on these particular populations
Learning and Antipredator Behavior in Sticklebacks
Stickleback populations tend to be very similar other than predation pressure. Raised sticklebacks from each population in the lab without predators. Used mock attacks and found that those from the high predation environment learned to avoid the area more quickly. Natural selection most likely worked here
Assumptions of Mathematical Models that explain why Natural Selection favors Learning
1) There is some cost to learning, even if it is very small
2) the ability to learn has an underlying genetic basis
Learning Where Home is Located
Learning likely plays a role in migration and habitat selection in birds and other animals - important to know territory boundaries, neighbors, and nearby resources
Migration in Fish
Multiple theories as to how fish find their way back home, but there is much evidence that learning plays a role. Juvenile salmon appear to learn the odors associated with their natal stream. Age-dependent and possibly a hormonal underpinning of the olfactory development
Learning about your mate
if an individual can learn to associate certain cues with mating opportunities, it would reap benefits
Males and females experimentally learned to approach an area with a given scent that was paired with the opposite sex.
Learning about Familial Relationships
Learning may play a role in some species in deciphering between kin and non-kin. If they can it is useful for cooperative behavior and altruism.
Helpers-at-the-nest in long-tailed tits
Individual foregoing direct reproduction. Observe birds helping kin when it is most beneficial (this raised the question of how they know who is kin). Turns out that birds know the call of their kin and it is learned based on a cross fostering experiment.
Learning about aggression
Intrinsic factors - an animal's fighting ability
Extrinsic factors - the winner and loser effects (past altercations)
Blue Gourami Fish
Males are territorial and they ran an experiment to test winner and loser effects. There were these effects. Found that learning could be a force that shapes aggressive interactions
Molecular Genetics of Learning in Rats
When rats where divided into high and low avoidance and then checked for gene expression in the hypothalamus it was found that avoidance seemed to be controlled by 8 genes.
Endocrinology of Learning in Rats
Using a water maze and High and Low anxiety rats, they found that glucocorticoids (stress hormones) negatively affect learning.
Phylogeny of Learning in Mollusks
Learning is documented in many species of mollusks (especially the family Aplysiidae) and they have large and recognizable neurons. Studied 6 species of snails to look at learning from a phylogenetic perspective. Used "defensive withdraw" behavior (of which serotonin plays a role). Correlated phylogeny with behavior when serotonin was added.
Studies learning, doesn't know of any species that can't learn, "modular mind" debate