Logo Logo
Switch Language to German

Hofmann, M. M.; Cheke, L. G. and Clayton, N. S. (2016): Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) solve multiple-string problems by the spatial relation of string and reward. In: Animal Cognition, Vol. 19, No. 6: pp. 1103-1114

Full text not available from 'Open Access LMU'.


String-pulling is a widely used paradigm in animal cognition research to assess what animals understand about the functionality of strings as a means to obtain an out-of-reach reward. This study aimed to systematically investigate what rules Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) use to solve different patterned string tasks, i.e. tasks in which subjects have to choose between two or more strings of which only one is connected to the reward, or where one is more efficient. Arranging strings in a parallel configuration showed that the jays were generally capable of solving multiple-string tasks and acted in a goal-directed manner. The slanted and crossed configurations revealed a reliance on a "proximity rule", that is, a tendency to choose the string-end closest to the reward. When confronted with strings of different lengths attached to rewards at different distances the birds chose according to the reward distance, preferring the reward closest to them, and were sensitive to the movement of the reward, but did not consistently prefer the shorter and therefore more efficient string. Generally, the scrub-jays were successful in tasks where the reward was closest to the string-ends they needed to pull or when string length and reward distance correlated, but the birds had problems when the wrong string-end was closest to the reward or when the food items were in close proximity to each other. These results show that scrub-jays had a partial understanding of the physical principles underlying string-pulling but relied on simpler strategies such as the proximity rule to solve the tasks.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item