Navigation Links
Evolutionary explanation for why some lessons more easily learned than others
Date:8/4/2014

It's easy to guess why it doesn't take long to learn to avoid certain behaviors and embrace others. But how do we know what drives these predilections? A study led by Aimee Dunlap at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and co-authored by University of Minnesota researcher David Stephens, offers insight into the evolutionary underpinning of animals' innate ability to quickly absorb critical life lessons.

Animals are flooded with stimuli, but survival often depends on their ability to form specific associations that enhance fitness while ignoring others entirely. Psychologists have a name for it: the Garcia Effect. In the 1960s, John Garcia showed that rats are primed to learn certain associations (taste and illness) and not others (light and illness).

"Different learning abilities evolved in different environments, and we had a hypothesis about how that should happen," says Stephens. "What we wanted to know the general properties that cause natural selection to favor some learned associations over others."

Dunlap and Stephens tested their hypothesis using techniques associated with experimental evolution. "Experimental evolution is different than artificial selection," says Stephens. Instead of selecting for specific traits, the idea is to create specific environments and ask whether they generate selection in the predicted way.

By testing their hypothesis over 40 generations of fruit flies in environments designed to evoke specific associations (between quinine and color or odor). They were able to produce some populations of flies who learned quinine-color associations, and others who learned quinine-odor association. This confirmed the hypothesis that statistical reliability across many generations of selection determines what animals can learn and what they can't.

"We're coming to know quite a lot about the underlying neural and molecular biological mechanisms that cause associations to form," says Stephens. "If you know odor makes a stronger association for this population and color for that population, that raises a really interesting mechanistic question of what's happening inside the neural systems of these flies -- how these different learning abilities arise."


'/>"/>

Contact: Stephanie Xenos
sxenos@umn.edu
612-624-8723
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Leading evolutionary scientist to discuss how genome of bacteria has evolved
2. An evolutionary surprise
3. A University of Tennessee professors hypothesis may be game changer for evolutionary theory
4. Scientists trace evolutionary history of what mammals eat
5. Battle of the sexes offers evolutionary insights
6. Revolutionary project will obtain entire genome sequences in fight against Alzheimers
7. Sandia seeks commercial partners for revolutionary SpinDx medical diagnostic tool
8. Tamarisk biocontrol efforts get evolutionary boost
9. Researchers dig through the gene bank to uncover the roots of the evolutionary tree
10. WHOI scientists/engineers partner with companies to market revolutionary new instruments
11. Drivers of marine biodiversity: Tiny, freeloading clams find the key to evolutionary success
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:9/14/2019)... ... September 12, 2019 , ... Catalent, ... drugs, biologics, gene therapies, and consumer health products, today announced that professor David ... Dr. Schaffer has played an integral advisory role on the gene therapy industry, ...
(Date:9/11/2019)... ... September 09, 2019 , ... Greenberg Traurig, LLP ... David J. Dykeman will speak at DeviceTalks Minnesota, Sept. 9-10, at the Hyatt ... firm’s global Life Sciences & Medical Technology Group have been featured speakers ...
(Date:9/8/2019)... ... September 06, 2019 , ... ... mesenchymal stem/stromal cell (hMSC) biomanufacturing systems, today announces its release of the ... media system designed for product development. RoosterBio continues to simplify MSC production ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/11/2019)... ... 2019 , ... An upcoming episode of Advancements with Ted ... sequencing analysis. Check your local listings for more information. , Advancements will go ... and will explore its revolutionary pathogenic DNA analysis technology, which predicts in real-time, ...
(Date:9/8/2019)... , ... September 05, 2019 , ... ... Blaine Fitzgerald, former Vice President of Finance for Shopify, has been named Chief ... and healthcare venture capitalist Joel Finlayson as strategic advisors. Additionally, Spartan has hired ...
(Date:8/29/2019)... ... August 28, 2019 , ... ... Danisco® ingredient solutions to attendees at the International Baking Industry Expo, September 8 ... challenges from optimizing production efficiency to cost and waste reduction and from maintaining ...
(Date:8/25/2019)... ... 2019 , ... Authors Gopal Nayak and Mahendra Kumar Trivedi ... “Impact of Biofield Treatment on Growth and Anatomical Characteristics of Pogostemon cablin (Benth.)" ... book garnered No. 1 status on Amazon in several categories including: Mind-Body Medicine, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: