The performance of cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, in a reversal learning task varies across experimental paradigms

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2018
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Marcadier, Fanny
Wismer, Sharon
Krattinger, Océane
Quattrini, Fausto
Bshary, Redouan
Binning, Sandra A.
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PeerJ. 2018, 6, e4745. eISSN 2167-8359. Available under: doi: 10.7717/peerj.4745
Zusammenfassung

Testing performance in controlled laboratory experiments is a powerful tool for understanding the extent and evolution of cognitive abilities in non-human animals. However, cognitive testing is prone to a number of potential biases, which, if unnoticed or unaccounted for, may affect the conclusions drawn. We examined whether slight modifications to the experimental procedure and apparatus used in a spatial task and reversal learning task affected performance outcomes in the bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus (hereafter “cleaners”). Using two-alternative forced-choice tests, fish had to learn to associate a food reward with a side (left or right) in their holding aquarium. Individuals were tested in one of four experimental treatments that differed slightly in procedure and/or physical set-up. Cleaners from all four treatment groups were equally able to solve the initial spatial task. However, groups differed in their ability to solve the reversal learning task: no individuals solved the reversal task when tested in small tanks with a transparent partition separating the two options, whereas over 50% of individuals solved the task when performed in a larger tank, or with an opaque partition. These results clearly show that seemingly insignificant details to the experimental set-up matter when testing performance in a spatial task and might significantly influence the outcome of experiments. These results echo previous calls for researchers to exercise caution when designing methodologies for cognition tasks to avoid misinterpretations.

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570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
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ISO 690GINGINS, Simon, Fanny MARCADIER, Sharon WISMER, Océane KRATTINGER, Fausto QUATTRINI, Redouan BSHARY, Sandra A. BINNING, 2018. The performance of cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, in a reversal learning task varies across experimental paradigms. In: PeerJ. 2018, 6, e4745. eISSN 2167-8359. Available under: doi: 10.7717/peerj.4745
BibTex
@article{Gingins2018perfo-42513,
  year={2018},
  doi={10.7717/peerj.4745},
  title={The performance of cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, in a reversal learning task varies across experimental paradigms},
  volume={6},
  journal={PeerJ},
  author={Gingins, Simon and Marcadier, Fanny and Wismer, Sharon and Krattinger, Océane and Quattrini, Fausto and Bshary, Redouan and Binning, Sandra A.},
  note={Article Number: e4745}
}
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