Animal Cognition

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 301–305 | Cite as

Spatial cognition and perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple A-not-B detour task

  • Britta Osthaus
  • Leanne Proops
  • Ian Hocking
  • Faith Burden
Short Communication

Abstract

We investigated perseveration and detour behaviour in 36 equids (Equuscaballus, E. asinus, E. caballus × E. asinus) and compared these data to those of a previous study on domestic dogs (Canisfamiliaris). The animals were required to make a detour through a gap at one end of a straight barrier in order to reach a visible target. After one, two, three or four repeats (A trials), the gap was moved to the opposite end of the barrier (B trials). We recorded initial deviations from the correct solution path and the latency to crossing the barrier. In the A trials, mules crossed the barrier significantly faster than their parental species, the horses and donkeys. In the B trials, following the change of gap location, all species showed a reduction in performance. Both dogs and horses exhibited significant spatial perseveration, going initially to the previous gap location. Donkeys and mules, however, performed at chance level. Our results suggest that hybrid vigour in mules extends to spatial abilities.

Keywords

Equids Donkeys Horses Mules Dogs Detour Spatial reasoning A-not-B Perseveration 

References

  1. Baragli P, Regolin L (2008) Cognition tests in Equids (Equus caballus and Equus asinus). International Equine Science Meeting, RegensburgGoogle Scholar
  2. Baragli P, Vitale V, Paoletti E, Sighieri C, Rennon AR (2011) Detour behaviour in horses (Equus caballus). J Ethol 29:227–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gácsi M, Kara E, Belényi B, Topál J, Miklósi A (2009) The effect of development and individual differences in pointing comprehension of dogs. Anim Cogn 12:471–479PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. McKenzie BE, Bigelow E (1986) Detour behaviour in young human infants. Br J Dev Psychol 4:139–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Osthaus B, Marlow D, Ducat P (2010) Minding the gap: spatial perseveration error in dogs. Anim Cogn 6:881–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Piaget J (1954) The construction of reality in the child. Basic Books, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Proops L, Burden F, Osthaus B (2009) Mule cognition: a case of hybrid vigour? Anim Cogn 12:75–84PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Sappington BKF, McCall CA, Coleman DA, Kuhlers DL, Lishak RS (1997) A preliminary study of the relationship between discrimination reversal learning and performance tasks in yearling and 2-year-old horses. Appl Anim Behav Sci 53:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Travis L (1990) The Mule. J.A. Allen & Co., LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Britta Osthaus
    • 1
  • Leanne Proops
    • 2
  • Ian Hocking
    • 1
  • Faith Burden
    • 3
  1. 1.PsychologyCanterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK
  2. 2.PsychologyUniversity of SussexFalmerUK
  3. 3.Donkey SanctuarySidmouthUK

Personalised recommendations