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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Encoding the Object Position for Assessment of Short Term Spatial Memory in Horses (Equus caballus)

  • Author(s): Baragli, Paolo
  • Vitale, Valentina
  • Paoletti, Elisa
  • Mengoli, Manuel
  • Sighieri, Claudio
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

In this study, the detour problem was combined with the classic delayed-response task to investigate equine short-term spatial memory. Test subjects were eight female horses, divided into two groups (A and B) of four subjects each. The motivating object was made to move and disappear behind one oftwo identical obstacles in a two-point-choice apparatus. After a 10 s (Group A) or 30 s (Group B) delay the animal was released to seek the object. Both groups made more correct (14.8 ± 1.3 forGroup A and 13.5 ± 3.1 for Group B, mean ± SD) than incorrect choices (5.3 ± 1.3 for Group A and6.5 ± 3.1 for Group B, mean ± SD) and the performance of each group was significantly above chance level (z = 4.14,  p = 0.000, for Group A and z = 3.02, p = 0.002, for Group B). Therefore, tested animals were able to recover the object by approaching the correct obstacle after 10 s or 30 s delays, showing that they had encoded and recovered from memory the existence of the target object and its location.

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