Spatial learning in golden hamsters: Relationship between food-searching strategies and difficulty of the task

Martine Ammassari-Teule, Henri Durup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In an elevated maze consisting of three reconvergent radial arms, golden hamsters were tested with the same experimental rule: to choose each path without repeating any choice. However, variations of procedure concerning (a) the location of the reward in the maze, and (b) reinforcement contingencies, were introduced in order to define several problems involving variable levels of difficulty. The relationship between response strategies and difficulty of the task was then studied. The common learning criterion was the achievement of three consecutive correct daily sessions, each session corresponding to a particular sequence (pattern) of choices of paths. Response strategies were studied by analyzing the patterns obtained over the three final sessions in which an animal reached the learning criterion. Such a set of patterns (triplet) could be heterogeneous (patterns all different), mixed (two identical patterns, one different) or stereotyped (identical patterns). No relationship was found between the mean level of difficulty presented by each learning problem and the occurrence of a particular type of triplet. However, in each situation, mixed triplets were the most frequently recorded and corresponded to the medium individual speeds of learning whereas heterogeneous triplets corresponded to rapid successes and stereotyped triplets to delayed successes. These findings indicate that, whatever the problem designed to be tested in a three-arm maze, the various forms of solutions reflect different individual adaptative mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-365
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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