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History of modern animal behavior research

C. O. Whitman (1800's) coined the term instinct to


describe the display patterns of pigeons.

Instinct is the inherent inclination of an animal


toward a particular behavior. Another term is
fixed or stereotyped action patterns which
are unlearned and inherited.
Many instincts are triggered by stimuli (from the
environment or other animals).

Jakobvon Uexkull (1864-1944) called triggers of instinctive


stereotyped behaviors sign stimuli. He believed that we
needed to think like the animal - not anthropomorphize.

Example:
tick how do behaviors
help get a blood meal?
Immature females are at first only sensitive to light (not
touch). They crawl towards light, which elevates her off the
ground (on a tip of grass).

Example:
tick how do behaviors
help get a blood meal?
Then the tick is only sensitive to butyric acid, which
mammals produce. When she senses butyric acid, she
drops.

Example:
tick how do behaviors
help get a blood meal?
Next the tick is only sensitive to temperature, no longer
chemical or visual cues. She will burrow into any warm
surface, and will suck any warm liquid, having no sense of
taste.

Example:
tick how do behaviors
help get a blood meal?
The whole rich world around the tick shrinks into a scanty
framework consisting of three receptor cues her
Umwelt. Jakob von Uexkull

sign stimuli
Light
Butyric acid
Heat
Many behaviors have a strong genetic
component
unlearned and developmentally fixed behaviors
Stereotyped or Fixed Action Patterns a sequence of
unlearned and mostly unchangeable acts
Triggered by a sign stimulus (external sensory stimulus)

The Waggle Dance


Migration
Courtship Behavior
Innate Behaviors
Moist site
Dry open
under leaf
A Kinesis a area

simple
change in
behavior in
response to a
(a) Kinesis increases the chance that a sow bug will
stimulus encounter and stay in a moist environment.

A Taxis is
an automatic Direction
movement to of river
current
or from a
stimulus
(b) Positive rheotaxis keeps trout facing into the
current, the direction from which most food comes.
Animal
Examples of
Stereotyped
Action

Patterns
Defensive Reflex:
Tail flagging
Raised snouts
Jumping
Kicking Dirt

Innate, stereotyped
behavior:
Kitten pouncing on leaves
Baby birds begging for
food

Warbler adult feeding cowbird


Stereotyp
ed
Action
Pattern
Definition:

motor response

initiated by an
environmental
stimulus

continues to
completion without
external stimuli
Characteristics of Stereotyped Action Pattern
1. Innate (unlearned), instinctual
2. Often linked to actions crucial to survival or
reproduction
3. Elicited by proximate mechanism termed a Sign
Stimulus (SS)
General Principle:
SS is often a suite of cues, affect magnitude
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_NTrfHkvvhYA/RhFO2vZpZ9I/AAAAAAAAACs/G_v2r_JfSVs/s400/Herring-Gull-head-.jpg

of response.
Exaggerated sign stimulus can cause super-
normal response
Application to human Super-stereotypy
Berridge et al. 2005
Super-stereotypic grooming pattern

DAT knockdown mice


have LONGER
grooming bouts
Associated with more dopamine in the brain,
similar to Tourettes patients
Berridge et al. 200
Greater rigidity of completing grooming
sequence

The serial pattern of this behavioral sequence


becomes strengthened and more resistant to
interruption
Berridge et al. 2005
More grooming
bouts in
unfamiliar
environment
(context-
dependent)

Grooming Bout
Duration

Laboratory = unfamiliar
Home cage = familiar
Common proximate mechanism?
Finding: DAT knockdown mice, have increased
stereotypy and ridigity of the fixed action pattern-
grooming bouts more likely to go to full completion of
the sequence with strong body licking
Test: Administered dopamine agonist in
wildtype mice
Result: Reduced
duration of some
grooming phases
*
Interpretation:
dopamine shortens
some phases to
*
allow for faster
transitions to the
next phase thus
increased numbers Matell et al. 2006
of completed
Questions related to the assigned reading
How is yawning a stereotyped fix action pattern?
what are different types of yawns and what does that tell us
about the necessary components needed for yawning? (fig 2)
what is the sign stimulus for a yawn? is a gaping mouth
necessary? (fig 6)
yawns are contagious
how does MRI data refute the idea that mirror neurons
playing a role?
what is the role of empathy and social inhibition to
yawning?
what neurological condition shows decreased yawning?
Things you can ignore: yawn-stretch linkage, myths about
yawning
Imprinting:
An innate form of learning, often associated with development.
Learning is the modification of
behavior based on specific experiences
Imprinting
combination of learned and innate components. Limited
to a sensitive period in an organisms life.
Habituation
loss of responsiveness to a stimulus.
Associative Learning
ability to associate one environmental feature to another.
Classical Conditioning associate stimuli with
reward/punishment
Operant Conditioning associate behavior with
reward/punishment
Cognition (insight)
ability to perceive, store, process, and use information
(reasoning, complex)
Proximate and ultimate perspectives on
imprinting in graylag geese
BEHAVIOR: Young geese follow and imprint on
their mother.

PROXIMATE CAUSE: During an early, critical developmental stage,


young geese observe their mother moving away from them and calling.
ULTIMATE CAUSE: On average, geese that follow and imprint on their
mother receive more care and learn necessary skills, and thus have a
greater chance of surviving than those that do not follow their mother.
Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) examined genetically
programmed behaviors in young and imprinting.

Young geese form an image of parent just after


hatching. If the hatchlings first encounter a human,
they will imprint on him and follow him around as if he
were their mother.
Imprinting is learning that involves both innate
behavior and experience

Imprinting is irreversible
learning limited to a
sensitive period in an
animal's life; it enhances
fitness by enabling rapid
learning
Imprinting plays an important role in song
development for many kinds of birds
Not all examples of imprinting involve parent-offspring
bonding
Can you think of an example?
ANSWERS
Life cycle of
Pacific Salmon
(Onchorynchus
sp.)
Smolts, imprint to the
unique chemical odor
of their hatching
stream then navigate
up-gradient towards
this odor years later
How the olfactory system is
wired
Frontal cortex

Medial dorsal
nucleus
Amygdala Emotions
(thalamus)
Limbic
Olfactory cortex system
HippocampusMemory

Olfactory
bulb

Olfactory
epithelium
Olfactory epithelium contains 2 main cell

1
Cilia of
olfactory
receptor
neurons

2
Unlike other neurons,
Stem cells
olfactory receptor neurons are
continually regenerated

Olfactory bulb
Thyroxine increases the number of olfactory receptor cell

# of
th y r o x i n
r e c e p to r s
Thyroxine has multiple roles in
development
Thyroxine secretion rate
Thyroxine stimulates metamorphosis in amphibian
TRH TSH Thyroxine

TRH rises

35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 +5 +10
Days from emergence of forelimb

2004-2005