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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2019

Authors: Brucks, D; Marshall-Pescini, S; Range, F

Title: Dogs and wolves do not differ in their inhibitory control abilities in a non-social test battery.

Source: Anim Cogn. 2019; 22(1):1-15

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Brucks Désirée
Marshall Sarah
Range Friederike

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Project(s): Understanding the proximate mechanisms of canine cooperation

Being able to inhibit certain behaviours is of clear advantage in various situations. In particular, it has been suggested that inhibitory control plays a role in problem-solving and cooperation. Interspecific differences in the capacity for inhibitory control have been attributed to social and ecological factors, while one additional factor, namely domestication, has received only little attention so far. Dogs are an interesting species to test the effects of socio-ecological factors and also the influence of domestication on inhibitory control abilities. While dogs might have been selected for enhanced inhibition skills during domestication, the predictions derived from their socio-ecological background are reversed. Wolves are cooperative hunters and breeders, while dogs predominately scavenge and raise their young alone, accordingly, it would be predicted that dogs show impaired inhibitory control abilities since they no longer rely on these coordinated actions. To test these hypotheses, we assessed inhibitory control abilities in dogs and wolves raised and kept under similar conditions. Moreover, considering the problem of context-specificity in inhibitory control measures, we employed a multiple-test-approach. In line with previous studies, we found that the single inhibition tests did not correlate with each other. Using an exploratory approach, we found three components that explained the variation of behaviours across tests: motivation, flexibility, and perseveration. Interestingly, these inhibition components did not differ between dogs and wolves, which contradicts the predictions based on their socio-ecological backgrounds but also suggests that at least in tasks with minimal human influence, domestication did not affect dogs' inhibitory control abilities, thus raising questions in regard to the selection processes that might have affected inhibitory control abilities during the course of domestication.

Keywords Pubmed: Animals
Behavior, Animal
Choice Behavior
Inhibition, Psychological
Reversal Learning

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