Learning Simple and Compound Stimuli in a Social Lizard (Egernia stokesii)

Szabo, Birgit; Noble, Daniel W A; Whiting, Martin J (2021). Learning Simple and Compound Stimuli in a Social Lizard (Egernia stokesii). Journal of comparative psychology, 135(2), pp. 208-218. American Psychological Association 10.1037/com0000260

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We tested learning and behavioral flexibility in family-living gidgee skinks (Egernia stokesii) using a multistage visual discrimination task that included acquisition and reversal stages using simple and compound stimuli composed of black shapes superimposed on a colored background. We evaluated how lizards learn compound cues through a probe test. Lizards showed behavioral flexibility through reversal learning using simple stimuli (only color or shape). Our lizards used compound stimuli to learn a discrimination but had problems reversing and generalizing across novel compound stimuli. In the probe test, lizards chose the correct stimulus in a novel pairing with a distractor feature even without previous experience with compound stimuli. Our results suggest that some lizards are likely able to attend selectively to the relevant features of our compound stimuli while ignoring irrelevant features instead of using the configuration of a cue card as a whole to learn to discriminate between compound stimuli. We hope that our work will spark interest in further studies looking at how lizards (and reptiles in general)
learn to solve visual discrimination problems.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Ethological Station Hasli (Zoological Institute)

UniBE Contributor:

Szabo, Birgit

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

0735-7036

Publisher:

American Psychological Association

Funders:

[UNSPECIFIED] Australian Society of Herpetologists ; [UNSPECIFIED] Macquarie University

Language:

English

Submitter:

Birgit Szabo

Date Deposited:

01 Apr 2021 11:34

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2021 01:32

Publisher DOI:

10.1037/com0000260

PubMed ID:

33464106

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.153055

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/153055

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