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Behavior and Cognition Sciences

Minimizing Restraint in Medical Procedures

Bridge Conditioning and Maintenance

In 2016, SLEWTHS started collecting data to highlight some of the relevant nuances in the debate in the positive reinforcement community concerning the benefits and disadvantages of continuous bridge maintenance versus intermittent maintenance.  We collected data on 1.4 California sea lions and 2.0 domestic pigeons to evaluate bridge usage in a professional facility over hundreds of training trials and thousands of bridges.   We compared the maintenance rate of younger, less experienced animals to older ones and also between species.  We were able to maintain our bridging stimuli to over 98% criterion (perfect reaction to stimulus in terms of breaking behavior and overall behavioral response rate).

In a separate project, SLEWTHS has begun a comparative study between the use of a clicker and a verbal bridge stimuli.

A Review of the Psychological Principles and Training Techniques Associated with Desensitization

Habituation is defined classically as "the relatively persistent waning of a response as a result of repeated stimulation which is not followed by any kind of reinforcement” (Thorpe, 1956).  In the authors' opinion the desensitization process is an integral part of many aspects of an animal training regime involving the incorporation of both habituation and counter-conditioning practices. It is necessary for preparing an animal to accept novel stimulus, to operate in a novel environment, and to interact with apparent confidence and consistency in captivity (Flaherty, 1985; Goldblatt,1993).   A literature search on the topic is summarized and used to elaborate on conventional animal training desensitization practices.

Hurley, J. , Ph. D., & Holmes, N. (n.d.). A review of the psychological principles and training techniques associated with desensitization. 1-27.

Evaluating the Effects of Complex Conditioned Stimuli on Learning Efficiency

Evaluating Self Recognition in California Sea Lions and Bottlenose Dolphins

Hormonal Effects Mediating Horse Dropping Behavior