Functional trade-offs when studying evolution of learning
Course:- Biology
Reference No.:- EM13756209

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Question 1:

When conducting laboratory studies on animal learning, what sorts of precautions should you take to ensure that your interpretations of the role of learning in your animal system are accurate? If you were not studying learning, why should you remain cognizant of the learning abilities of your study organism?

Question 2:

Under what parental investment conditions should females and males have equal ability to learn? When should females exhibit greater learning abilities than males? When should males exhibit greater learning abilities than females?

Question 3:

Read the paper by Kotrschal and colleagues (2013), "Artificial Selection on Relative Brain Size in the Guppy Reveals Costs and Benefits of Evolving a Larger Brain" (Current Biology, 23, 1- 4). Describe the artificial selection procedure and the major behavioral and morphological differences between the small-brained and large-brained guppy lines. How do these data relate to the "expensive-tissue hypothesis"? Expand upon why it is important to consider functional trade-offs when studying the evolution of learning.

Question 4:

What types of environments would be conducive to natural selection favoring the ability to learn? Support your answers from peer-reviewed literature.

Question 5:

Don't like any of these questions? Ask your own.

Question 6:

Suppose I run an experiment in which I take a bird (the observer) and let it view another bird (the demonstrator) opening a sealed cup by pecking at a circle on the cover of the cup. I then test the observer and see that it now opens the cup by pecking at the circle. What can I infer about social learning here? What other critical treatment is missing from this experiment?


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Precaution must be taken for the experimental procedure and reproducibility of the whole inference. As, while observing that animal respond to sound, it is necessary to take care, that additional sound or voice is not present in the whole context. Some of the important concern includes (Spruijt, 2014):

• Precise repetition of sequential events that are used in the experiment.
• Timing, sound, food, vision, and related factors should be constant.
• Use of control is necessary to relate the learning impact on animals. Control is the condition that particular learning variable is absent in the study.
• In other cases, control groups can be included, where animals in that group will not be facilitated by learning conditions (factors).

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