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Visual discrimination abilities in the gray bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium griseum)

Articles

Journal/Conference:

ZOOLOGY

Language:

English

Author:

Bleckmann Horst; Schluessel Vera

Experts:

Fuss Theodora

Year:

2014

Volume:

117

Issue:

2

Pages:

104-111

Keywords:

Chiloscyllium griseum; Elasmobranchs; Learning ability; Reversal task; Visual discrimination

This study assessed visual discrimination abilities in bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium griseum). In a visual discrimination task using two-dimensional (2D) geometric stimuli, sharks learned to distinguish between a square, being the positive (rewarded) stimulus, and several negative stimuli, such as two differently sized triangles, a circle, a rhomboid and a cross. Although the amount of sessions to reach the learning criterion and the average trial time needed to solve each new task did not vary significantly, the number of correct choices per session increased significantly with on-going experiments. The results indicate that the sharks did not simply remember the positive stimulus throughout the different training phases. Instead, individuals also seemed to learn each negative symbol and possibly had to “relearn” at least some aspects of the positive stimulus during each training phase. The sharks were able to distinguish between the 2D stimulus pairs at a learning rate corresponding to that found in teleosts. As expected, it took the sharks longer to learn a reversal task (with the positive stimulus now being the negative one) than to discriminate between the other stimulus pairs. Nevertheless, the present results suggest that bamboo sharks can learn visual discrimination tasks, succeed in a reversal task and probably retain (some) information about a previously learned task when progressing to a new one. (C) 2013 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.