Ethological analysis of predator avoidance by the paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis L.): II. Key stimuli in avoidance learning

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The possible role of eyespot patterns in predator recognition by paradise fish was examined using a passive avoidance conditioning technique with various dummies or live goldfish. It was found that a low-intensity shock, although clearly uncomfortable, elicited exploratory behavior in the fish and that observable learning did not occur. However, if the paradise fish was shocked in the presence of a live goldfish or various fish dummies, exploration diminished and avoidance learning was detected. This was characterized by a considerable increase in latency to enter the shocked compartment. The most effective dummies were those with two laterally arranged eye-like spots. The possible role of species-specific key stimuli in avoidance learning and organizing defensive behavior of the paradise fish is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Learning & Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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