Seminar Details

Let me do it by myself: The role of active search and individual experience in social learning




Noa Truskanov - Dept. of Zoology, Tel Aviv University


Social learning, the ability to learn from observation or interaction with another individual, is fundamental for many forms of social living, enabling the transmission of behaviors and innovations within social groups. Yet, our understanding of the mechanisms of social learning is incomplete, and the causes for its success or failure remain unclear. In my talk I'll present a set of experiments we conducted with house-sparrow (Passer domesticus) fledglings, in which we investigated the conditions promoting social learning and the role of self-experience in its success. We found that: 1. fledglings that follow a mother model can learn socially food related cues, but their learning is more effective when social learning is mediated through active search and self-experience with the cue. 2. Active search is also important during individual learning, and shifting reward-cue association between contexts can be challenging even in the absence of demonstrators. Thus, difficulties in social learning may stem from a general constraint on learning that involves the need to generalize across different situations. 3. Young sparrows can learn to imitate actions demonstrated by their mother, but develop this ability through a trial-and-error process during which they use simpler, familiar behaviors to produce those demonstrated by the mother. This finding sheds a new light on how imitation abilities develop from simpler learning mechanisms.

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