Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A Test of Future Planning Ability in the Rat



The aim of this study was to investigate the planning abilities of nonhumans, specifically rats. This was assessed by the animals’ tendency to behave in response to future rather than present motivations. For the purposes of this study the future motivation in question was anticipatory sensory specific satiety, i.e., the animals were trained to expect satiating exposure to a certain flavour of rat pellet in the near future. At the testing phase of the study the animals were offered an unexpected choice of two flavours prior to being exposed to the excess of the experimental flavour. This unexpected flavour choice consisted of the flavour that the animal was about to receive (the flavour congruous with the animal’s expectation), and an alternative flavour, of equal familiarity and palatability (the incongruous flavour). The consumption of the congruous and incongruous flavours was recorded. When faced with this choice, an animal successfully anticipating satiation to the upcoming flavour would be expected to consume proportionally more of the alternative (incongruous) flavour, in order to maintain the pleasantness of the anticipated flavour. However the results were inconclusive: there was no significant difference between the proportion of the congruous and the incongruous flavours consumed, suggesting that the current group of animals was not capable of spontaneously anticipating the upcoming flavour. An altered procedure then investigated whether the animals were capable of learning to anticipate the upcoming flavour by introducing regular (and therefore expected) flavour choices. Under these new circumstances the animals consumed significantly higher proportions of the congruous compared to the incongruous flavour. Taken together, these results suggest both that the animals were unable to spontaneously anticipate being satiated by an upcoming flavour, and were unable to learn to anticipate this satiation following repeated trials. The results and certain assumptions of the study are discussed

Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

Suggested articles


  1. (1988). A new one-trial test for neurobiological studies of memory in rats. doi
  2. (2005). Anxiety, Defence and the Elevated Plus Maze. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, doi
  3. (2006). Apes Save Tools for Future Use. doi
  4. Are Animals Stuck In Time?
  5. (1995). Brain mechanisms of satiety and taste in macaques.
  6. (1984). Clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. doi
  7. (2005). Developmental and cognitive perspectives on humans’ sense of the times of past and future events. doi
  8. (2005). Discrimination of what, when and where: Implications for episodic-like memory in rats. doi
  9. (1972). Episodic and semantic memory. In doi
  10. (1999). Episodic memory: what can animals remember about their past? doi
  11. (2005). Episodic recollection in animals: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...”. doi
  12. (2005). Episodic-like memory in a gorilla: A review and new findings. doi
  13. (2001). Episodic-like memory in pigeons. doi
  14. (1999). Extending the spontaneous preference test of recognition: evidence of object-location and object-context recognition. doi
  15. (2004). Integrated Memory for Object, Place, and Context in Rats: A Possible Model of Episodic-Like Memory? doi
  16. (2005). Making decisions with the future in mind: Developmental and comparative identification of mental time travel. doi
  17. (1997). Mental Time Travel and the Evolution of the Human Mind. doi
  18. (2003). Mental time travel in animals? doi
  19. (2002). Neural Responses during Anticipation of a Primary Taste Reward. doi
  20. (2001). Neural systems underlying episodic memory: insights from animal research. doi
  21. (2005). Oldowan Culture and the Evolution of Anticipatory Cognition,
  22. (2007). Patients with hippocampal amnesia cannot imagine new experiences, doi
  23. (2003). Sensory-specific satiety is affected more by volume than by energy content of a liquid food. Physiology and Behaviour, doi
  24. (1998). Sensory-specific satiety: comparison of taste and texture effects. doi
  25. (2005). The case of K.C.: contributions of a memory-impaired person to memory theory. doi
  26. (2005). The emergence of episodic future thinking in humans. doi
  27. (2007). The Evolution of Foresight: What is Mental Time Travel and is it Unique to Humans? doi
  28. (2004). The relationship between food reward and satiation revisited. doi
  29. (1989). The time course of sensory specific satiety. doi
  30. (2007). Western Scrub-Jays Anticipate Future Needs Independently of Their Current Motivational State. doi
  31. (1997). What memory is for” doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.