Dimensions of Temperament Modulate Cue-Controlled Behavior: A Study on Pavlovian to Instrumental Transfer in Horses (Equus Caballus)

Léa Lansade, Etienne Coutureau, Alain Marchand, Gersende Baranger, Mathilde Valenchon, Ludovic Calandreau
PLoS ONE. 2013-06-14; 8(6): e64853
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064853

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1. PLoS One. 2013 Jun 14;8(6):e64853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064853. Print 2013.

Dimensions of temperament modulate cue-controlled behavior: a study on Pavlovian
to instrumental transfer in horses (Equus caballus).

Lansade L(1), Coutureau E, Marchand A, Baranger G, Valenchon M, Calandreau L.

Author information:
(1)Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), UMR 85, Physiologie de
la Reproduction et des Comportements, Nouzilly, France.

Pavlovian to instrumental transfer (PIT) is a central factor in how cues
influence animal behavior. PIT refers to the capacity of a Pavlovian cue that
predicts a reward to elicit or increase a response intended to obtain the same
reward. In the present study, using an equine model, we assessed whether PIT
occurs in hoofed domestic animals and whether its efficacy can be modulated by
temperamental dimensions. To study PIT, horses were submitted to Pavlovian
conditioning whereby an auditory-visual stimulus was repeatedly followed by food
delivery. Then, horses were submitted to instrumental conditioning during which
they learned to touch with their noses an object signaled by the experimenter in
order to obtain the same reward. During the PIT test, the Pavlovian conditioned
stimulus was presented to the animal in the absence of reward. At the end of the
experiment, a battery of behavioral tests was performed on all animals to assess
five temperamental dimensions and investigate their relationships with
instrumental performance. The results indicate that PIT can be observed in horses
and that its efficacy is greatly modulated by individual temperament. Indeed,
individuals with a specific pattern of temperamental dimensions (i.e., higher
levels of gregariousness, fearfulness, and sensory sensitivity) exhibited the
strongest PIT. The demonstration of the existence of PIT in domesticated animals
(i.e., horses) is important for the optimization of its use by humans and the
improvement of training methods. Moreover, because PIT may be implicated in
psychological phenomena, including addictive behaviors, the observation of
relationships between specific temperamental dimensions and PIT efficacy may aid
in identifying predisposing temperamental attributes.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064853
PMCID: PMC3682987
PMID: 23798994 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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