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Activity counts: the effect of swimming activity on quantity discrimination in fish.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23162518     Owner:  NLM     Status:  PubMed-not-MEDLINE    
Human infants and non-human animals can discriminate the larger of two sets of discrete items. This quantity discrimination may be based upon the number of items, or upon non-numerical variables of the sets that co-vary with number. We have demonstrated that angelfish select the larger of two shoals of conspecifics without using inter-fish distance or space occupied by the stimuli as cues. However, density appeared to influence the choice between large shoals. Here, we examine the role of another non-numerical cue, swimming activity of the stimulus fish, in quantity discrimination by angelfish. To control this variable, we varied the water temperature of the stimulus aquaria or restricted the space occupied by each fish in the stimulus shoals. We used the previously successfully discriminated contrasts consisting of large (10 vs. 5) and small (3 vs. 2) shoals. We also studied whether more active or less active shoals are preferred in case of equally sized shoals (10 vs. 10, 5 vs. 5, and 3 vs. 3). When differences in stimulus fish activity were minimized by temperature manipulation we found angelfish to prefer the larger shoal in the 3 vs. 2 comparison, but not in the 10 vs. 5 comparison. When activity was controlled by space restriction, angelfish preferred the larger shoal in both numerical contrasts. These results imply that the overall activity level of the contrasted shoals is not a necessary condition for small shoals discrimination in angelfish. On the other hand, the results obtained for the large shoals, together with results obtained in the control treatments (equal numerical contrasts and differing activity levels), suggest that activity is a sufficient condition for discrimination when large shoals are involved. Further experiments are needed to evaluate the influence of other continuous variables, and to assess whether the mechanisms underlying performance are comparable to those suggested for other animals.
Luis M Gómez-Laplaza; Robert Gerlai
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2012-11-12
Journal Detail:
Title:  Frontiers in psychology     Volume:  3     ISSN:  1664-1078     ISO Abbreviation:  Front Psychol     Publication Date:  2012  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-11-19     Completed Date:  2012-11-20     Revised Date:  2013-08-13    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101550902     Medline TA:  Front Psychol     Country:  Switzerland    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  484     Citation Subset:  -    
Department of Psychology, University of Oviedo Oviedo, Spain.
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