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Data from: Do detour tasks provide accurate assays of inhibitory control?


van Horik, Jayden O. et al. (2018), Data from: Do detour tasks provide accurate assays of inhibitory control?, Dryad, Dataset,


Transparent cylinder and barrier tasks are used to purportedly assess inhibitory control in a variety of animals. However, we suspect that performances on these detour tasks are influenced by non-cognitive traits, which may result in inaccurate assays of inhibitory control. We therefore reared pheasants under standardized conditions and presented each bird with two sets of similar tasks commonly used to measure inhibitory control. We recorded the number of times subjects incorrectly attempted to access a reward through transparent barriers, and their latencies solve each task. Such measures are commonly used to infer the differential expression of inhibitory control. We found little evidence that their performances were consistent across the two different Putative Inhibitory Control Tasks (PICTs). Improvements in performance across trials showed that pheasants learned the affordances of each specific task. Critically, prior experience of transparent tasks, either barrier or cylinder, also improved subsequent inhibitory control performance on a novel task, suggesting that they also learned the general properties of transparent obstacles. Individual measures of persistence, assayed in a third task, were positively related to their frequency of incorrect attempts to solve the transparent inhibitory control tasks. Neophobia, sex and body condition had no influence on individual performance. Contrary to previous studies of primates, pheasants with poor performance on PICTs had a wider dietary breadth assayed using a free-choice task. Our results demonstrate that in systems or taxa where prior experience and differences in development cannot be accounted for, individual differences in performance on commonly used detour-dependent PICTS may reveal more about an individual’s prior experience of transparent objects, or their motivation to acquire food, than providing a reliable measure of their inhibitory control.

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