Abstract # 13238 Poster # 97:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 2018 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Chula Vista ) Poster Presentation


OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING FACILITATES POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING FOR INHIBITED RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA)

L. Houser and K. Coleman
Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, OR 97006 , USA
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     Studies have pointed to the many benefits of positive reinforcement training (PRT) to animal well being. However, despite the benefits, training can involve a large initial input of time, which may preclude its use in some facilities. Further, not every animal learns at the same rate. Inhibited or shy animals may take longer to train than exploratory animals. Therefore, finding alternate training methods that can make the process less time consuming could be of great value. Because primates are known to learn by observing the actions of others, one potential alternate technique is to have subjects watch conspecifics being trained. In this study, we examined whether this kind of observational learning facilitates training for shy female rhesus macaques. We first trained 6 bold monkeys (“demonstrators”) to turn and present for menses check using PRT. We then trained 14 shy monkeys for the same task. Ten of these monkeys (“observers”) watched the demonstrators being trained, while the others (“non-observers”) had not. For all animals, training sessions were 3-7 min, 3 times per week. Observers were significantly more likely than non-observers to reliably perform this behavior within 12 sessions (chi square=4.2, df=1, p=0.04). While 6 of the observers reliably presented, none of the non-observers learned this task. These results suggest that watching conspecifics train may be a useful training tool for inhibited monkeys.