Goal orientation by geometric and feature cues: spatial learning in the terrestrial toad Rhinella arenarum

Abstract

Although of crucial importance in vertebrate evolution, amphibians are rarely considered in studies of comparative cognition. Using water as reward, we studied whether the terrestrial toad, Rhinella arenarum, is also capable of encoding geometric and feature information to navigate to a goal location. Experimental toads, partially dehydrated, were trained in either a white rectangular box (Geometry-only, Experiment 1) or in the same box with a removable colored panel (Geometry–Feature, Experiment 2) covering one wall. Four water containers were used, but only one (Geometry–Feature), or two in geometrically equivalent corners (Geometry-only), had water accessible to the trained animals. After learning to successfully locate the water reward, probe trials were carried out by changing the shape of the arena or the location of the feature cue. Probe tests revealed that, under the experimental conditions used, toads can use both geometry and feature to locate a goal location, but geometry is more potent as a navigational cue. The results generally agree with findings from other vertebrates and support the idea that at the behavioral-level geometric orientation is a conserved feature shared by all vertebrates.

DOI: 10.1007/s10071-014-0802-8

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@article{Sotelo2014GoalOB, title={Goal orientation by geometric and feature cues: spatial learning in the terrestrial toad Rhinella arenarum}, author={Mar{\'i}a In{\'e}s Sotelo and Verner P. Bingman and Rub{\'e}n Nestor Muzio}, journal={Animal Cognition}, year={2014}, volume={18}, pages={315-323} }