Judgement bias in pigs is independent of performance in a spatial holeboard task and conditional discrimination learning

Sanne Roelofs, Eimear Murphy, Haifang Ni, Elise Gieling, Rebecca E. Nordquist, F. Josef van der Staay
2017 Animal Cognition  
Biases in judgement of ambiguous stimuli, as measured in a judgement bias task, have been proposed as a measure of the valence of affective states in animals. We recently suggested a list of criteria for behavioural tests of emotion, one of them stating that responses on the task used to assess emotionality should not be confounded by, among others, differences in learning capacity, i.e. must not simply reflect the cognitive capacity of an animal. We performed three independent studies in which
more » ... pigs acquired a spatial holeboard task, a free choice maze which simultaneously assesses working memory and reference memory. Next, pigs learned a conditional discrimination between auditory stimuli predicting a large or small reward, a prerequisite for assessment of judgement bias. Once pigs had acquired the conditional discrimination task, optimistic responses to previously unheard ambiguous stimuli were measured in the judgement bias task as choices indicating expectation of the large reward. We found that optimism in the judgement bias task was independent of all three measures of learning and memory indicating that the performance is not dependent on the pig's cognitive abilities. These results support the use of biases in judgement as proxy indicators of emotional valence in animals.
doi:10.1007/s10071-017-1095-5 pmid:28508125 pmcid:PMC5486501 fatcat:tqpqp75rgvfrndmlyyevkt4ozm