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The influence of pre-experimental experience on social discrimination in rats (Rattus norvegicus)

By Oliver Burman and Michael Mendl

Abstract

The authors used laboratory rats (Rattus norvegicus) of known relatedness and contrasting familiarity to assess the potential effect of preexperimental social experience on subsequent social recognition. The authors used the habituation-discrimination technique, which assumes that multiple exposures to a social stimulus (e.g., soiled bedding) ensure a subject discriminates between the habituation stimulus and a novel stimulus when both are introduced simultaneously. The authors observed a strong discrimination if the subjects had different amounts of preexperimental experience with the donors of the 2 stimuli but a weak discrimination if the subjects had either equal amounts of preexperimental experience or no experience with the stimuli. Preexperimental social experience does, therefore, appear to influence decision making in subsequent social discriminations. Implications for recognition and memory research are discussed

Topics: C120 Behavioural Biology, D328 Animal Welfare
Publisher: American Psychological Society
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:3839

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