Precise relative-quantity judgement in the striped field mouse Apodemus agrarius Pallas.


Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals, Siberian Branch RAS, Frunze 11, Novosibirsk, 630091, Russia. [Email]


Applying the classical experimental scheme of training animals with food rewards to discriminate between quantities of visual stimuli, we demonstrated that not only can striped field mice Apodemus agrarius discriminate between clearly distinctive quantities such as 5 and 10, but some of these mice also exhibit high accuracy in discriminating between quantities that differ only by one. The latter include both small (such as 2 versus 3) and relatively large (such as 5 versus 6, and 8 versus 9) quantities of elements. This is the first evidence of precise relative-quantity judgement in wild rodents. We found striking individual variation in cognitive performance among striped field mice, which possibly reflects individual cognitive variation in natural populations. We speculate that high accuracy in differentiating large quantities is based on the adaptive ability of wild rodents to capture subtle changes in their environment. We suggest that the striped field mouse may be a powerful model species to develop advanced cognitive tests for comparative studies of numerical competence in animals and for understanding evolutionary roots of quantity processing.


Behavioural flexibility,Individual cognitive variation,Numerical competence,Relative-quantity judgement,Rodents,Training,Two-choice discrimination,Visual stimuli,

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