Numerical discrimination by frogs (Bombina orientalis)

Abstract

Evidence has been reported for quantity discrimination in mammals and birds and, to a lesser extent, fish and amphibians. For the latter species, however, whether quantity discrimination would reflect sensitivity to number or to the continuous physical variables that covary with number is unclear. Here we reported a series of experiments with frogs (Bombina orientalis) tested in free-choice experiments for their preferences for different amounts of preys (Tenebrio molitor larvae) with systematic controls for variables such as surface area, volume, weight, and movement. Frogs showed quantity discrimination in the range of both small (1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 3, but not 3 vs. 4) and large numerousness (3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 8, but not 4 vs. 6), with clear evidence of being able to discriminate numerousness even when continuous physical variables were controlled for in the case of small numerousness (i.e., 1 vs. 2), whereas in the case of large numerousness it remains unclear whether the number or surface areas were dominant. We suggested that task demands are likely to be responsible for the activation of different systems for small and large numerousness and for their relative susceptibility to quantitative stimulus variables.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the University of Padova (“Progetto Giovani” 2010, to R.R., prot.: GRIC101142 and “Progetto di Ateneo” 2012 to R.L. prot. CPDA127200) and by ERC Advanced Grant to G.V. (PREMESOR ERC-2011-ADG_20110406).

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Stancher, G., Rugani, R., Regolin, L. et al. Numerical discrimination by frogs (Bombina orientalis). Anim Cogn 18, 219–229 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-014-0791-7

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Keywords

  • Number cognition
  • Quantity discrimination
  • Analog magnitude system (AMS)
  • Object file system (OFS)
  • Frogs