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J Comp Psychol. 2011 May;125(2):194-206. doi: 10.1037/a0022584.

Association, inhibition, and object permanence in dogs' (Canis familiaris) spatial search.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The relative role of associative processes and the use of explicit cues about object location in search behavior in dogs (Canis familiaris) was assessed by using a spatial binary discrimination reversal paradigm in which reversal conditions featured: (1) a previously rewarded location and a novel location, (2) a previously nonrewarded location and a novel location, or (3) a previously rewarded location and a previously nonrewarded location. Rule mediated learning predicts a similar performance in these different reversal conditions whereas associative learning predicts the worst performance in Condition 3. Evidence for an associative control of search emerged when no explicit cues about food location were provided (Experiment 1) but also when dogs witnessed the hiding of food in the reversal trials (Experiment 2) and when they did so in both the prereversal and the reversal trials (Experiment 3). Nevertheless, dogs performed better in the prereversal phase of Experiment 3 indicating that their search could be informed by the knowledge of the food location. Experiment 4 confirmed the results of Experiments 1 and 2, under a different arrangement of search locations. We conclude that knowledge about object location guides search behavior in dogs but it cannot override associative processes.

PMID:
21604853
DOI:
10.1037/a0022584
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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