Spatial and visual rule use by harbour seals (Phoca vitulina)
Deane Renouf and Linda Gaborko
Department of Psychology and Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NF, Canada, AIB 3X9.
Biology of Behaviour, 14: 169 - 181. 1989
Abstract: Two harbour seals were trained in a series of spatial (Experiment 1) and visual (Experiment 2) discriminations in which the required response was different for each task. In Experiment 1, the stimulus dimension which defined the discriminative stimuli was "above vs. below the surface". In Experiment 2, the defining feature was "black vs. white". Both seals learned the spatial problems easily, and improved their performance over tasks. The visual problems seemed to be more difficult for the seals and only one animal was able to learn them. However, his performance showed improvement near the end of the visual series. The abrupt nature of the error reduction in the course of both sequences suggested some form of "insight learning" leading to the comprehension of the rules which provided the solution to the discriminations.