Behavioral and Cognitive Ecologist
Does the presence of a conspecific increase or decrease fear? Neophobia and habituation in zebra finches
Question: Do individuals fear novelty more when they are with others or when they are alone?
Hypothesis: Individuals will be less afraid in the presence of others.
Methods: We measured the time it took individual zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to feed in the presence and absence of a new object.
Results: Individuals are initially more fearful in a social setting but quickly habituate to the new object.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 2020
The impact of learning opportunities on
the development of learning and
decision-making: an experiment with
Question: Does experience make you smarter?
Hypothesis: Experience (the formation of cognitive associations during your lifetime) can lead to better learning.
Methods: We exposed young zebra finches (Taenopygia guttata) to one of three experimental conditions, i.e. an environment where (i) color cues reliably predicted the presence of food (associative learning), (ii) a combination of two-color cues reliably predicted the presence of food (conditional learning), or (iii) color cues were non-informative (control).
Results: The rate of learning varies depending on the amount of information exposed to during development.
Is exploration a metric for information gathering? Attraction to novelty and plasticity in black-capped chickadees
Question: What is the relationship between exploratory personality in animals and information gathering?
Hypothesis: Individuals that move through their environment quicker are actively gathering information about their environment.
Methods: We used wild‐caught black‐capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) to measure an individual's activity in a new environment and compared it to their attraction to novelty.
Results: Exploratory personality is a measure of information gathering.