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Are the more flexible great-tailed grackles also better at behavioral inhibition?
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Logan CJ, McCune KB, MacPherson M, Johnson-Ulrich Z, Rowney C, Seitz B, Blaisdell AP, Deffner D, Wascher CAF
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<p style="text-align: justify;">Behavioral flexibility (hereafter, flexibility) should theoretically be positively related to behavioral inhibition (hereafter, inhibition) because one should need to inhibit a previously learned behavior to change their behavior when the task changes [the flexibility component; Manrique et al. (2013); Griffin and Guez (2014); Liu et al. (2016)]. However, several investigations show no or mixed support of this hypothesis, which challenges the assumption that inhibition is involved in making flexible decisions. We aimed to test the hypothesis that flexibility (measured as reversal learning and solution switching on a multi-access box by Logan et al. 2019) is associated with inhibition by measuring both variables in the same individuals and three inhibition tests (a go/no go task on a touchscreen, a detour task, and a delay of gratification experiment). We set out to measure grackle inhibition to determine whether those individuals that are more flexible are also better at inhibition. Because touchscreen experiments had never been conducted in this species, we additionally validated that a touchscreen setup is functional for wild-caught grackles who learned to use the touchscreen and completed the go/no go inhibition task on it. Performance on the go/no go and detour inhibition tests did not correlate with each other, indicating that they did not measure the same trait. Individuals who were faster to update their behavior in the reversal experiment took more time to attempt a new option in the multi-access box experiments, and they were either faster or slower to reach criterion in the go/no go task depending on whether the one bird, Taquito, who was accidentally tested beyond the 200 trial cap was included in the GLM analysis. While the relationship between the number of trials to reverse a preference and the number of trials to reach the go/no go criterion was strongly influenced by Taquito, who was very slow in both experiments, the more comprehensive Bayesian model of flexibility that takes all trials into account and does not rely on an arbitrary passing criterion provided support for the positive relationship irrespective of whether Taquito was included. Performance on the detour inhibition task did not correlate with either measure of flexibility, suggesting that detour performance and the flexibility experiments may measure separate traits. We were not able to run the delay of gratification experiment because the grackles never habituated to the apparatuses. We conclude that flexibility is associated with certain types of inhibition, but not others, in great-tailed grackles.</p>
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Inhibition, go/no go, detour, flexibility, comparative cognition, grackle
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