Undergraduate Honours Theses
The purpose of the current study was to investigate cue competition in rat foraging. Rats were placed in a food tower maze comprised of 25 towers arranged in a 5 x 5 matrix. Four towers within the maze were baited and arranged in a diamond spatial pattern. The rat’s objective during each trial was to find each baited tower. The rats in the Visual + Pattern (V+P) condition had an additional, visual cue in the form of striped sleeves placed on all four baited towers. There were 80 trials in total, split into two phases of 40 trials. Rats in the V+P group had the baited towers marked with stripes during Phase 1 and these visual cues were removed during Phase 2. Rats in the Pattern Only (PO) group had no visual cues identifying baited towers in either Phase 1 or Phase 2. Results of the experiment indicated that the V+P group significantly outperformed the PO group during Phase 1 in terms of choices required to find the fourth baited tower. During Phase 2, both groups of rats decreased in performance. However, there was no significant differences between the two groups of rats during Phase 2. Thus, the V+P rats learned the pattern in spite of the visual cues, demonstrating that salient visual cues did not overshadow less-salient pattern cues.