Team Weblog!

Posted On November 1, 2007

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Currently in my ABA lab, I have joined forces with my wonderful lab partners, Lauren and Charlene.  From now on, the three of us will maintain our experimental information on Charlene’s weblog at Cpatr5de.wordpress.com.  If you are looking for information on Tinkerbell, Ambrosia, or Rooth, you’ll find all these interesting tidbits, and video on the new team weblog.  Don’t forget to check it out! 🙂

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More Social Learning Articles!

Posted On November 1, 2007

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November 1st, 2007 at 1:40 am (Uncategorized) · Edit

Kaiser, D. H., Zentall, T. R. & Galef, Jr., B. G. (1997)  Can imitation in pigeons be explained by local enhancement together with trial-and-error learning?  Psychological Science, 8 (6).  Retrieved October 31, 2007, from 
http://sociallearning.info/home/pdf/psychological%20science%208,6,%201997%20-%20imitation%20in%20pigeons.pdf

 

This journal article has interesting information which provides some rather good evidence of imitative learning in pigeons.  The researchers exposed observer pigeons in one of two control groups to a trainer pigeon.  In control group one, the trainer pigeon had no acquired learning of the task.  In the other control group the observer pigeons were exposed to a trainer pigeon who had been conditioned to eat from a feeder at variable intervals.  Immediately following each observer pigeon’s observation of the trainer pigeon, the demonstrater was replaced with the observer.  The pigeons in the control groups were significantly less likely to peck during the testing than were pigeons that had observed a conspecific demonstrater perform one of these acts. Imitative behavior might be accounted for by trial-and-error learning and the exposure to the motivational cues provided to the members of the learning group of pigeons by the simple presence of the conspecific. 

   

Lachlan, R. F., Crooks, L. & Laland, K. N.  Who follows whom?  Shoaling preferences and social leanring of foraging information in guppies.  Animal Behaviour, 56, (181-190).  Retrieved October 31, 2007, from http://readgroup.biology.ed.ac.uk/publications/docs/Lachlan98_AnBehv.pdf

 I really don’t know if this article is relevant to “rat behavior” but the article is very interesting and  explores the preferences and social learning of foraging information in guppies.  Guppies were more likely to learn to adopt the behaviour shown by members of a shoal of several demonatrators than a different behaviour shown by a single conspecific demonstrator.  This article posits that animals do not require advanced cognitive abilities to establish social learning.  Fish learn from large groups of fish and the article implies that learned information diffuses through fish populations in a non random, or directed manner.  These learning behaviours include foraging success, information about predators, routes and mating sites. 

An Experiment Update!

Posted On October 21, 2007

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Tinkerbell has done wonderfully generalizing to the new wooden rat box which we constructed.  I started habituating Tink to the new box on Thursday, and I began conditioning her to hop up onto a wooden platform and “ring the bell” in her new environment on Friday and Saturday.  On Friday, Tinkerbell had difficulty staying on the platform.  She would jump right up onto the platform on my verbal cue, but as she rang the bell by hitting it with her nose, she would fall over the side of the platform.  I was worried that this may become a problem.  I considered extending the platform by adding a wider piece of plywood over the existing platform.  I was worried that if Tink became fearful of the platform, it would be much more difficult to condition her to do the two part trick. 

After much thought, I decided to try again without adding the additional piece of plywood to extend the platform.  I let Tink “play” in the box and jump up onto the platform for about 20 muinutes  before I added the bell to the appartus. We worked together over numerous trials and I’m happy to say that Tinkerbell mastered her two part trick.  She is conditioned to jumping onto the narrow platform and she rings the bell without falling over the side about 95% of the time.  We are well on our way to the most interesting part of our experiment.  I think I’ll give Tink a couple more days of conditioning trials before we add Rat #2, Rooth, into the mix. 

 (Food weight – 20.5 grams – Body weight – 225 grams)  

Experimental Design – Team E

Posted On October 17, 2007

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Hypothesis: Sprague-Dawley rats will demonstrate learned behavior after being exposed socially to the behavior of another pre-conditioned Sprague-Dawley rat.

Method:

Apparatus: A wooden Box (76.2 cm x 30.5 cm x 45.7 cm) will be used. Inside a small box approximately the height of two baking soda boxes stacked on top of each other (5.1 cm x 7.6 cm) for the rats to stand on. A standard round bell on a red ribbon will be suspended from an eye hook screwed into the side of the wooden box at approximately (2.5 cm) from the top of the box. Standardized 45 mg rat pellets will be used as a reinforcer.

Procedure:
    Part 1-Rat A (Tinkerbell) will be classically conditioned  to climb the boxes and move the bell hard enough to make a ringing sound and will then be reinforced with rat pellets.
    Part 2- A separate baseline over the course of three days will be established based on how many times Tinkerbell climbs on the box and rings the bell within an hour. A baseline will also be found for Rat B (Rooth) and Rat C (Ambrosia), based on the number of times they successfully climb on the box and ring the bell over the course of an hour. This baseline will be taken with each rat in the box separately.
    Part 3- Tinkerbell and Rooth will be placed in the box at the same time. Tinkerbell will be free to climb on the box and ring the bell at which point both rats will be reinforced. Rooth will not be reinforced if she rings the bell on her own at this point. The procedure given will be repeated after Rooth is removed and Ambrosia is put in with Tinkerbell.
    Part 4- Rooth will be placed by herself in the holding box where the number of times she climbs on the box and rings the bell (and is therefore reinforced) is recorded for an hour per day over the course of three days. This same procedure will be repeated for Ambrosia after she is placed within the box by herself. Afterwards we will take a ratio of the number of successful bell rings at baseline and after they have been subjected to the experiment.

Diagram of experimental apparatus

Socializing with Rooth

Posted On October 17, 2007

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Last week in ABA lab, my lab partner, Lauren and I, worked on getting our rats better aquainted.  We placed the “baking soda” boxes in the correct position within the wooden box in the animal room and placed both Tinkerbell and Rooth into the box to habituate to the box and the new box platform.  After fall break we will begin the hard work on our experiment and these beginning steps are very important to the success of our experiment.  Both Tink and Rooth enjoyed exploring the new platform and freely hopped on and off of the boxes.  It is definitely going to be a challenge to condition Tinkerbell to ring the bell at the top of the platform with Rooth playfully running from corner to corner.  Once our new box is completed, I expect some changes in both the rats, as the smells from the “well used” animal room box will be gone. Today we begin our conditioning trials for our experiment.    

Working on Generalization with Tinkerbell

Posted On October 9, 2007

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Over the weekend and also on Monday, I have been hard at work generalizing Tinkerbell to the wooden box in the animal room.  As part of our upcoming experiment, I need Tinkerbell to ring the bell in this new environment.  On Saturday and Sunday, I basically let Tink habituate to the box.  Today I started conditioning her to ring the bell in the same corner that she rang the bell in the aquarium.  I followed the same procedure of clicking when she rang the bell, followed by her food reinforcement.   I also fed Tink in the same corner as I fed her in the aquarium.  Conditioning went well today.  The animal room is much noisier then the individual rooms down in lab 104.  Tink was very interested in all the new smells in the wooden box and all the surrounding noise.  But, all in all, for our first attempt, training went smoothly.  I’m going to keep working with Tink in the wooden box as prep work for what Tink will be doing in our experiment. 
(Food weight – 21.0 grams – Body weight – 225 grams) 

Quiet weekend!

Posted On October 6, 2007

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       Friday in ABA lab was very quiet.  I’m continuing to condition Tinkerbell with her “ringing the bell” trick!  She still enjoys our “work” time and has fully mastered her trick as you can see in the videos. 

       This week I (along with my lab partners, Lauren and Charlene) need to present our experiement to our ABA class, and  present our apparatus that we are going to be using in our experiment.  We have some great ideas to expand on and I’m very excited about our research.  One of the exciting parts of this class is that we get to experience experimental psychology, observe behaviors in our animals which prompts questions we may have about the behaviors, and  then we create a research project based on our very own questions.  Experimental research, statistics for psychology and assessment are my favorite parts of being a psychologist in training. 

 (Food weight – 20.9 grams – Body weight – 215 grams)

Social hour for Tinkerbell, Ambrosia and Rooth!

Posted On October 4, 2007

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      ABA lab was very interesting today for Tinkerbell.  My lab partners, Lauren and Charlene,  and I decided that it was time to get our rats socialized.  We are working hard on the plans for our upcoming experiment, and socializing Rooth, Ambrosia and Tinkerbell is going to be a big priority.  We first placed Ambrosia and Rooth together in the animal room wooden box.  Ambrosia is much bigger then Rooth and Tink.  Charlene was worried that Ambrosia would misbehave, but the two of them “played” like rats are suppossed to play.  Rooth and Tink are around the same weight, so I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart.  Tomorrow we will mark their tails with  a washable marker to distinguish them from each other.  Because of this problem, I only let Tinkerbell socialize with Ambrosia today.  It was quite a comedic scene watching the girls prance about.  Tinkerbell is definitely the “runt” of the three and she kept running underneath Ambrosia. Our experiment is going to be social in nature and today we took the first step in a long process of organizing and getting things underway. 

       After social time, I worked on Tinkerbell’s conditioning.  She responded great again today, and really has mastered her bell ringing trick.  When I presented my diagram in class on Tuesday, I really should have gone into much more detail about how I shaped Tinkerbell to ring the bell.  I think I made it sound easy and it really wasn’t.  Yes, she did learn to ring the bell in an hour’s time, but, I worked very hard on shaping her to ring the bell correctly.  I wanted to make sure Tinkerbell didn’t just “bump” the bell with her nose without a jingle.  In order to receive her food morsel, Tink had to “ring” the bell, not just tap into it with her nose or her behind.  The video’s tell it all.
(Food weight – 20.9 grams – Body weight – 219 grams)

Tinkerbell has mastered her trick!

Posted On October 3, 2007

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Posted On October 3, 2007

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