Subject: abstract - dolphin memory (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sun, 7 Jun 1998 07:56:25 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: abstract - dolphin memory

Mercado, E., Murray, S. O., Uyeyama, R. K., Pack, A. A. & Herman, L. M.
Memory for recent actions in the bottlenosed dolphin (Tursiops truncatus):
Repetition of arbitrary behaviors using an abstract rule. Animal Learning
and Behavior, 26(2), 210-218.

Little is known about how animals represent their own actions in working
memory. We investigated whether bottlenosed dolphins could recall actions
they had recently performed and reveal those recollections using an
abstract rule.  Two dolphins were trained to respond to a specific
gestural command by repeating the last behavior performed.  Both dolphins
proved to be able to repeat a wide variety of behaviors on command and
were able to generalize the repeating rule to novel behaviors and
situations.  One dolphin was able to repeat all 36 behaviors she was
tested on, including behaviors involving multiple simultaneous actions and
self-selected behaviors.  These results suggest that dolphins can flexibly
access memories of their recent actions and that these memories are of
sufficient detail to allow for reenactments.  The repeating task can
potentially be used to investigate short-term action and event
representations in a variety of species.

Reprints:                               Eduardo Mercado III
                                        Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Lab
                                        1129 Ala Moana Blvd.
                                        Honolulu, HI 96814