Ageing does not significantly affect performance in a spatial learning task in the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus)

McCune, Sandra, Stevenson, Joy, Fretwell, Laura , Thompson, Amy and Mills, Daniel (2008) Ageing does not significantly affect performance in a spatial learning task in the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 112 (3-4). pp. 345-356. ISSN 0168-1591

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A spatial learning task was used to examine cognitive function in 36 cats (1.0-15.1 years of age), with a control for motor function. No significant age-related decline in cognitive function was found. Initial selection of 75 cats showed no significant age differences between young (0-3 years), adult (3.1-8 years), senior (8.1-12 years) and geriatric cats (12.1-15.1 years) locating food rewards in a holeboard box. Consequently, the senior and geriatric groups were combined because of a concern that age effects may not be seen in the 8-12-year-old cats. Differences between these three age groups of cats to learn the position of three food rewards in an array of 30 otherwise empty (food-scented) positions were non-significant. Differences between age groups remained non-significant for retrieval of rewards from these three positions even when masked with a tissue paper cover. There was no significant effect of age on speed of reaching each criterion. Although the total number of errors was similar, there was a significantly increased proportion of working memory errors (when the cat returned to a previously baited position) and decreased proportion of reference memory errors (when the cat put a nose or paw in an empty position) with increasing age. There was no effect of age on motor function, with success in a plank-crossing test related only to plank width. These findings support previous work suggesting that the cat differs from other species in the way in which it demonstrates age-related declines in cognitive function. Further studies using different testing methodologies are required to assess other cognitive functions that may decline with age. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords:age-related difference, aging, behavioral response, cognition, domestic species, felid, learning, memory, testing method, Felis catus
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:9050
Deposited On:05 May 2013 10:17

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