Animal  Cognition  &  Neuroscience  Laboratory



2009 Comparative Cognition Society Annual Meeting

Melbourne, FL
Poster Abstracts:


Two New Methods for Studying Serial Pattern Learning in Rats. PDF

Karen E. Doyle & Stephen B. Fountain (Kent State University)

In a serial multiple-choice (SMC) task like Fountain & Rowan’s (1995), rats learned to choose successive correct positions from a circular array of six nose poke receptacles on one wall. Rats learning a structured pattern showed differential acquisition rates for different elements types. When rats had to make a “start” response for each trial on a receptacle centered in the circular array, the same pattern of results was obtained. In a serial reaction time (SRT) task in the same apparatus, rats learned to track the shifting position of a light presented as either a structured or unstructured series. Although the groups made similar chunk-boundary and within-chunk errors, rats learned to make fewer errors on a violation element in the structured series compared to the comparable item in the unstructured series.  Differences between results from the SMC and SRT procedures will be discussed.


Rats Abstract Rules from a Response Series Lacking a Consistent Motor Sequence. PDF

Shannon M. A. Kundey (Hood College) & Stephen B. Fountain (Kent State University)

Research shows rats can learn rule-based response sequences by pressing levers in a circular array according to a consistent motor pattern. Learning a sequence under these conditions does not necessarily require rats to learn abstract rules; rats can potentially learn such sequences via simpler associative motor learning processes. We explored rats’ sequence learning when they could not succeed by repeating a set motor sequence. Rats learned either a structured (12345678) or an unstructured (17356428) subpattern interleaved with responses on randomly presented levers (X): 1X2X3X4X5X6X7X8X or 1X7X3X5X6X4X2X8X, respectively. Only rats in the structured group learned their pattern. Sequential structure in nonadjacent elements mediated superior pattern learning even when the rule relating those elements could not be abstracted from a set motor pattern.


Adolescent Nicotine Exposure Procedures and Adult Rat Serial Pattern Learning. PDF

Laura R. G. Pickens & Stephen B. Fountain (Kent State University)

Adolescent nicotine exposure via osmotic pump at 6 mg/kg/day over postnatal days (P) 30-48 produces neurophysiological changes in the brains of adult rats (Trauth et al., 1999). We examined whether nicotine delivered in this manner during adolescence would produce cognitive deficits like those seen after daily injections in a study by Fountain et al. (2008). After adolescent exposure via the osmotic pump method, adult rats learned serial patterns beginning on P95 in the cognitive task of Fountain et al. (2008). Whereas Fountain et al. (2008) found that daily nicotine injections of 1 mg/kg over P25-59 caused impairments in adult rat serial pattern learning, adolescent exposure via osmotic pump did not produce cognitive deficits in adult rats. We will compare these two studies that used the same cognitive paradigm and propose possible reasons for the differing results.

FountainLab: Animal Cognition & Neuroscience

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