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Lehmann, K.D.S.; Shogren, F.G.; Fallick, M.;Watts, J.C.; Schoenberg, D.;Wiegmann, D.D.; Bingman, V.P.; Hebets, E.A. Exploring Higher-Order Conceptual Learning in an Arthropod with a Large Multisensory Processing Center. Insects 2022, 13, 81. 10.3390/insects13010081


Insects 2022, 13, 81.


Comparative cognition aims to understand the evolutionary history and current function of cognitive abilities in a variety of species with diverse natural histories. One characteristic often attributed to higher cognitive abilities is higher-order conceptual learning, such as the ability to learn concepts independent of stimuli—e.g., ‘same’ or ‘different’. Conceptual learning has been documented in honeybees and a number of vertebrates. Amblypygids, nocturnal enigmatic arachnids, are good candidates for higher-order learning because they are excellent associational learners, exceptional navigators, and they have large, highly folded mushroom bodies, which are brain regions known to be involved in learning and memory in insects. In Experiment 1, we investigate if the amblypygid Phrynus marginimaculatus can learn the concept of same with a delayed odor matching task. In Experiment 2, we test if Paraphrynus laevifrons can learn same/different with delayed tactile matching and nonmatching tasks before testing if they can transfer this learning to a novel crossmodal odor stimulus. Our data provide no evidence of conceptual learning in amblypygids, but more solid conclusions will require the use of alternative experimental designs to ensure our negative results are not simply a consequence of the designs we employed.

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