Publication

Long-term memory of hierarchical relationships in free-living greylag geese

Weiss, B. M. & Scheiber, I. B. R., Jan-2013, In : Animal Cognition. 16, 1, p. 91-97 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • Brigitte M. Weiss
  • Isabella B. R. Scheiber

Animals may memorise spatial and social information for many months and even years. Here, we investigated long-term memory of hierarchically ordered relationships, where the position of a reward depended on the relationship of a stimulus relative to other stimuli in the hierarchy. Seventeen greylag geese (Anser anser) had been trained on discriminations between successive pairs of five or seven implicitly ordered colours, where the higher ranking colour in each pair was rewarded. Geese were re-tested on the task 2, 6 and 12 months after learning the dyadic colour relationships. They chose the correct colour above chance at all three points in time, whereby performance was better in colour pairs at the beginning or end of the colour series. Nonetheless, they also performed above chance on internal colour pairs, which is indicative of long-term memory for quantitative differences in associative strength and/or for relational information. There were no indications for a decline in performance over time, indicating that geese may remember dyadic relationships for at least 6 months and probably well over 1 year. Furthermore, performance in the memory task was unrelated to the individuals' sex and their performance while initially learning the dyadic colour relationships. We discuss possible functions of this long-term memory in the social domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2013

    Keywords

  • Long-term memory, Dyadic relationships, Greylag geese, Anser anser, TRANSITIVE INFERENCE, SPATIAL MEMORY, SITE FIDELITY, SOCIAL COMPLEXITY, ANSER-ANSER, DOMINANCE, MOVEMENT, FAMILIES, SUPPORT, PIGEONS

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