Presenter Information

Danielle CrandellFollow

Presentation Type

Poster - Campus Access Only

Abstract

Most vertebrates have evolved to recognize potential predators, prey, and social partners, but very little is known about how the brain detects and responds to such agents. One difficulty is experimentally controlling for cues that might signal agency, particularly in experimental models such as mice, which depend heavily on olfaction. We sought to test whether a more visual rodent, the diurnal, Chilean degu, would be differentially attracted or averse to social compared with non-social visual stimuli. Degus were placed in a chamber containing four, 3D printed objects made from white polylactic acid (PLA). Two objects were shaped as quadruped animals, a lion and modified rabbit, with a black dot marking eyes and nose. The other two objects were the same but with the features “scrambled”: facial features were smoothed, body parts and black dots were placed at random locations around the object, and the objects themselves were placed horizontally rather than upright. Degus showed a small but significant preference for some objects over others (one-way anova of percent time spent in each quadrant, F(3,96) = 2.7, p < 0.05). This effect was much stronger during the first half of the 3 min epochs (F(3,96) = 3.77, p = 0.013), during which degus clearly investigated the rabbit object more than the lion, (multiple comparison of means (p = 0.0065), although did clearly differentiate between animal and scrambled objects. The data suggest that degus may be instinctively averse to animal-like cues on the less familiar lion shape and naturally attracted to the visual form of the rabbit. More experiments will be necessary to determine whether these preferences reflect an underlying inference of potential agency or simply intrinsic values—positive and negative—of the visual forms themselves.

Category

Social Sciences

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Apr 28th, 11:00 AM Apr 28th, 12:00 PM

The effect of visual social stimuli on Octodon degus

UC South Ballroom

Most vertebrates have evolved to recognize potential predators, prey, and social partners, but very little is known about how the brain detects and responds to such agents. One difficulty is experimentally controlling for cues that might signal agency, particularly in experimental models such as mice, which depend heavily on olfaction. We sought to test whether a more visual rodent, the diurnal, Chilean degu, would be differentially attracted or averse to social compared with non-social visual stimuli. Degus were placed in a chamber containing four, 3D printed objects made from white polylactic acid (PLA). Two objects were shaped as quadruped animals, a lion and modified rabbit, with a black dot marking eyes and nose. The other two objects were the same but with the features “scrambled”: facial features were smoothed, body parts and black dots were placed at random locations around the object, and the objects themselves were placed horizontally rather than upright. Degus showed a small but significant preference for some objects over others (one-way anova of percent time spent in each quadrant, F(3,96) = 2.7, p < 0.05). This effect was much stronger during the first half of the 3 min epochs (F(3,96) = 3.77, p = 0.013), during which degus clearly investigated the rabbit object more than the lion, (multiple comparison of means (p = 0.0065), although did clearly differentiate between animal and scrambled objects. The data suggest that degus may be instinctively averse to animal-like cues on the less familiar lion shape and naturally attracted to the visual form of the rabbit. More experiments will be necessary to determine whether these preferences reflect an underlying inference of potential agency or simply intrinsic values—positive and negative—of the visual forms themselves.