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Evidence for enhanced learning of a socially transmitted food preference in rats interacting in large groups

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Evidence for enhanced learning of a socially transmitted food preference in rats interacting in large groups

Lipscombe, Carla L (2008) Evidence for enhanced learning of a socially transmitted food preference in rats interacting in large groups. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Socially Transmitted Food Preferences (STFP) are typically assessed in laboratory rats by allowing a single Observer to interact with a Demonstrator fed a distinctly flavored food. Social learning is gauged by the Observer rat's subsequent preference for the Demonstrator's diet to equally palatable alternatives. This thesis tested the hypothesis that modifying the design of conventional protocols to better match the conditions that would underlie STFP in a rat's natural habitat will enhance laboratory-assessed social learning. In Experiment 1, the ability for multiple Observers interacting simultaneously with a single Demonstrator to acquire a food preference was assessed. Rats were reared for 10 weeks in enriched housing conditions and tested under conventional (CL) or group-learning (GL) approaches. The results revealed a greater tendency for GL rats to consume their respective Demonstrators' diets than CL rats. Observers tested under CL failed to display a food preference. In Experiment 1B, the influence of impoverished rearing conditions on STFP was assessed. Rats were reared under standardized housing conditions and tested using CL. Impoverished rats acquired a more robust preference when rearing conditions and learning conditions were more similar. In Experiment 2, the role of the hippocampus in the acquisition and retention of STFP under GL was assessed at 10 min following the learning phase. Rats receiving hippocampal lesions performed similarly to sham lesion rats and consumed more of the diet eaten by their respective Demonstrators. In sum, these results provide support for enhanced learning of food preferences under semi-naturalistic conditions.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Lipscombe, Carla L
Pagination:x, 94 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Psychology
Date:2008
Thesis Supervisor(s):Mumby, David
ID Code:976082
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:19
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:41
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