Learning and Communication

by Jason Amores Sumpter
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learning is going to involve the acquisition or modification of a behavior, and it's gonna be due to the result of experiences. Learn behaviors usually involve some type of choice and a cost benefit analysis in that choice. Now, spatial learning is a special type of learning that establishes a spatial memory of the organisms environment. This is sometimes referred to as a cognitive map, a mental representation of the spatial information, and usually it involves relative space between objects. And we could see a nice example of that behind me here in this water maze where you basically put a mouse in it and you give it some type of landmark, and you have a hidden platform that it constabulary in the water, and it's basically just gonna swim around until it finds that platform. But then, based on where it knows that platform is relative to that visual landmark, the next time you put it in the tank of water, it'll swim right to the platform because it will know that it's there based on its spatial memory or rather, its cognitive map. Now there's a special type of learning called imprinting, and this is a time in an animal's life when it's gonna learn the characteristics of a stimulus. Usually you see this in the form of a child imprinting their parent. So they're going to learn the stim stimuli associated with that parent, be it experience, appearance, smell, sound, that sort of thing. And this is usually Onley possible during what's known as a sensitive period. And generally this is a very young age for the organism, and the result, as you can see, is the child will know what its parent looks like, or what its parent is based on certain stimuli. And you know, for example, in the case of thes ducklings will follow the mother duck around because they've imprinted the mother duck. Now this can sometimes go awry in some funny ways, and you'll see examples of ducklings, imprinting humans or even inanimate objects. Actually, and you know, that's that's basically this system kind of going haywire. However, it's supposed to work like this. Now, a signal is going to be a stimulus that is transmitted from one organism to another and one type of signal that we've looked at in other areas. Pheromones, thes air chemical signals released to the environment that allow organisms to communicate with one another. And you'll very often see these used by insects like bees to communicate with each other. Now communication is just the transmission and reception of signals between animals, and these don't just have to be chemical signals. They can be visual signals, auditory signals, uh, olfactory signals like smells, all that sort of stuff. Now there's an interesting type of communication behavior that you'll see, for example, in fruit fly courtship behavior. It's called a stimulus response chain, and basically here the communication behavior is such that each signal that's sent by an organism is going to serve as the stimulus for the next response by the other organisms. So, essentially, here you can see in the courtship the, you know, female fly is going to sort of Orient itself. And then these two flies they're going to do kind of like a dance, and they're going thio, uh, send these signals to each other that act as stimuli for the next behavior. The next action in the behavior. And this will eventually lead Thio. Yes, well, extensively anyways, mating as you can see here Now, it should be noted that not all communication is what we might call honest communication. Some is intentionally deceitful with the intention of fooling and organism. For example, you'll see, uh, possums playing possum, right, pretending that they're dead. That is a deceitful type of communication. However, it should be noted that deceitful communication tends to be most effective within a species as opposed to between species. And you'll see this in a bunch of really funny ways, especially with mating behaviors where, for example, they'll be, you know, some males that will be like big and strong and kind of like push away the other males from a female. But then there'll be some males that are deceitful, and they'll sidle up to like the female organism and pretend toe look like a female themselves, so that the the big, tough male, who's kind of throwing his weight around doesn't realize that they're actually a male and they'll mate with the female right under the big guys knows. I mean totally awesome funny stuff that you see in nature. Alright, with that, let's go ahead and flip the page