Abstract # 4477 Event # 116:

Scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013 11:00 AM-11:15 AM: Session 13 (San Geronimo Ballroom C) Oral Presentation


TESTING NONHUMAN PRIMATE FOOD PREFERENCES TO IMPROVE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING EFFICIENCY

J. E. Perlman1, A. L. Martin1,2, A. N. Franklin1, A. W. Clay1 and M. A. Bloomsmith1
1Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA, 2School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology
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     Animal training techniques in captive environments continue to advance, and behavioral managers look to various scientific disciplines to apply and evaluate new techniques that may benefit captive management. Food or water restriction is applied in some nonhuman primate (NHP) laboratory settings to gain high response rates and prolong testing periods for various neuroscience, cognitive and behavioral tasks. The Guide (2011) recommends using highly preferred food or fluid instead of restriction. Based on the work done with humans, it is believed that identifying effective and efficient methods for measuring food preferences in NHPs and using preferred foods as reinforcers may improve motivation, task performance, and training time to task acquisition, thus reducing the need for restriction practices. Often when food reinforcers are provided during training, preferred foods are selected based on convenience or on the trainer’s perception of the subject’s preferences. Empirically testing these food preferences and evaluating their effectiveness as reinforcers may improve training session outcomes. In this talk, studies evaluating the application of food preference testing to NHP’s will be reviewed, and we will identify what is known about preference selection and its relation to reinforcer value and task performance as well as the consistency of preferences over time. We will discuss refinements to current animal training practices, including reducing the need for restriction practices to improve the welfare of NHPs involved in training.