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Early experience affects adult personality in the red junglefowl: a role for cognitive stimulation?
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
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2017 (English)In: Behavioural Processes, ISSN 0376-6357, E-ISSN 1872-8308, Vol. 134, 78-86 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite intense research efforts, biologists are still puzzled by the existence of animal personality. While recent studies support a link between cognition and personality, the directionality of this relationship still needs to be clarified. Early-life experiences can affect adult behaviour, and among these, cognitive stimulation has been suggested theoretically to influence personality. Yet, the influence of early cognitive stimulation has rarely been explored in empirical investigations of animal behaviour and personality. We investigated the effect of early cognitive stimulation on adult personality in the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus). To this end, we assessed adult behaviour across a number of personality assays and compared behaviour of individuals previously exposed to a series of learning tasks as chicks, with that of control individuals lacking this experience. We found that individuals exposed to early stimulation as adults were more vigilant and performed fewer escape attempts in personality assays. Other behaviours describing personality traits in the fowl were not affected. We conclude that our results support the hypothesis that early stimulation can affect aspects of adult behaviour and personality, suggesting a hitherto underappreciated causality link between cognition and personality. Future research should aim to confirm these findings and resolve their underlying dynamics and proximate mechanisms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017. Vol. 134, 78-86 p.
Keyword [en]
Developmental plasticity, Boldness, Exploration, Gallus gallus, Juvenile learning, Neophobia, Vigilance
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-131304DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2016.06.003ISI: 000392893600011PubMedID: 27329431OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-131304DiVA: diva2:970473
Available from: 2016-09-13 Created: 2016-09-13 Last updated: 2017-09-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The relationship between personality and cognitionin the fowl, Gallus gallus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The relationship between personality and cognitionin the fowl, Gallus gallus
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

To cope with a changing environment, animals have traditionally been considered to behave adaptively to each situation faced. Yet, individual behavioural responses can both differ widely within populations, and show between-individual consistency (i.e. describing variation in animal personality). In this thesis, I focus on individual differences in animal personality and cognition (i.e. how animals perceive, process, store and act on environmental stimuli), and explore the possibility that they are interlinked. I use domestic- and red junglefowl (Gallus gallus ssp.), a species that is cognitively, behaviourally and socially complex, to explore these aspects of behaviour, through a series of studies.

Animal personality and coping styles are frequently used terms to describe within- and between-individual differences in behaviour, which are consistent over time and across various situations. The terms are often used as synonyms, even though they differ in some respects. In paper I, I show that animal personality and coping styles can be measured in red junglefowl, and that behavioural flexibility might be an important aspect for both. Further, I show that the terms should not be used as synonyms since they describe different aspects of behavioural variation.

In paper II, I observe large individual variation in both personality traits and learning speed in both chicks and adult red junglefowl. Interestingly, learning performance does not correlate across tasks, contrasting what has been found in humans and rodents. Thus, individuals that learn rapidly in one task are not necessarily fast learners in another task. I observe a relationship between personality and cognition that is task- and age-dependent, in which exploration relates to learning speed, but in opposite directions for chicks compared to adult females. In paper III, I show that red junglefowl chicks that are more behaviourally flexible have a stronger preference for new generalised stimuli, than less behaviourally flexible chicks. Behavioural flexibility was associated with fearfulness, indicating variation in reactive-proactive coping styles. In paper IV, I show that early cognitive stimulation to some extent can affect adult personality, thus showing a causal relationship between personality and cognition. Not all personality traits were affected, which might depend on the type of cognitive stimulation chicks were exposed to.

Important cognitive processes like perception and decision-making, can contain biases. One such bias is called judgment bias, which describes how individuals interpret ambiguous stimuli on a scale from positive to negative (optimism to pessimism). In paper V, I show that alteration of emotional state can influence such biases. Here, unpredictable stress influence judgment bias negatively, when individuals are housed in simpler, but not in complex environments, suggesting that there is an effect of additive stress that lead to reduced optimism. Complexity instead seems to buffer against negative effects of stress, since individuals in complex environments remained optimistic after stress exposure. Furthermore, increased dopamine activity was associated with optimism in chicks. In paper VI, I find that aspects of personality associate with how chicks judge ambiguity. Highly active individuals are more likely to approach cues than less active individuals, and when approaching, individuals that are slow to approach ambiguous cues are more vigilant when assayed in personality assays. Vigilant individuals might be more worried and reactive, which suggest that emotional traits can influence responses in a judgment bias task.

Taken together, I show consistent behavioural differences among individuals describing personality and coping styles, and variation in cognition. I show that these traits are related, and that there is an interplay between them, in which cognition can influence personality, and vice versa. I further show that judgment may be affected by the individual’s current affective state and personality. Thus, I show a complex relationship between personality and cognition that in combination with environmental effects can help explain behavioural variation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017. 61 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1818
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-140361 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-140361 (DOI)9789176856130 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-22, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-09-04 Created: 2017-09-04 Last updated: 2017-09-25Bibliographically approved

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