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Neophobia does not account for motoric self-regulation performance as measured during the detour-reaching cylinder task

Abstract

The ability to restrain a prepotent response in favor of a more adaptive behavior, or to exert inhibitory control, has been used as a measure of a species’ cognitive abilities. Inhibitory control defines a spectrum of behaviors varying in complexity, ranging from self-control to motoric self-regulation. Several factors underlying inhibitory control have been identified, however, the influence of neophobia (i.e., aversion to novelty) on inhibitory control has not received much attention. Neophobia is known to affect complex cognitive abilities, but whether neophobia also influences more basic cognitive abilities, such as motoric self-regulation, has received less attention. Further, it remains unclear whether an individual’s response to novelty is consistent across different paradigms purported to assess neophobia. We tested two North American corvid species, black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonia) and California scrub jays (Aphelocoma californica) using two well-established neophobia paradigms to assess response stability between contexts. We then evaluated neophobia scores against the number of trials needed to learn a motoric self-regulation task, as well as subsequent task performance. Neophobia scores did not correlate across paradigms, nor did the responses during either paradigm account for motoric self-regulation performance.

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Funding

This research was supported by a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant to DMK (#312379-2009).

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Correspondence to D. M. Kelly.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Permits are not necessary for the collection of magpies in Canada. Scrub jays were transferred from a previous research laboratory with permission from appropriate federal agencies. All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of University of Manitoba’s Animal Care Committee (Protocol #F14037) and complied with the guidelines set by the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

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Stow, M.K., Vernouillet, A. & Kelly, D.M. Neophobia does not account for motoric self-regulation performance as measured during the detour-reaching cylinder task. Anim Cogn 21, 565–574 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-018-1189-8

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Keywords

  • Motoric self-regulation
  • Cylinder task
  • Neophobia
  • Corvid
  • Inhibitory control