Numerical averaging in mice
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CitationGür, E., Duyan, Y. A., & Balcı, F. (November 04, 2020). Numerical averaging in mice. Animal Cognition. pp. 1-14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-020-01444-6
Rodents can be trained to associate different durations with different stimuli (e.g., light/sound). When the associated stimuli are presented together, maximal responding is observed around the average of individual durations (akin to averaging). The current study investigated whether mice can also average independently trained numerosities. Mice were initially trained to make 10 or 20 lever presses on a single (run) lever to obtain a reward and each fixed-ratio schedule was signaled either with an auditory or visual stimulus. Then, mice were trained to press another lever to obtain the reward after they responded on the run lever for the minimum number of presses [Fixed Consecutive Number (FCN)-10 or -20 trials] signaled by the corresponding discriminative stimulus. Following this training, FCN trials with the compound stimulus were introduced to test the counting behavior of mice when they encountered conflicting information regarding the number of responses required to obtain the reward. Our results showed that the numbers of responses on these compound test trials were around the average of the number of responses in FCN-10 and FCN-20 trials particularly when the auditory stimulus was associated with a fewer number of required responses. The counting strategy explained the behavior of the majority of the mice in the FCN-Compound test trials (as opposed to the timing strategy). The number of responses in FCN-Compound trials was accounted for equally well by the arithmetic, geometric, and Bayesian averages of the number of responses observed in FCN-10 and FCN-20 trials.