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Development of a control task for clarifying the neural mechanisms underlying tool-use behavior in rats (Rattus norvegicus).


ABSTRACT: Many studies on non-human animals have attempted to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying tool-use behavior. However, previous studies showed considerable non-tool-use-specific differences between tool-use and control tasks. The purpose of the present study was to develop a control training task for studies that investigate the neural mechanisms behind tool-use in rodents. Eight rats were subjected to control tasks which excluded tool-use-specific factors and consisted of training for hook-pulling and hook-choice tasks, as well as tool-choice tests which included tool-use specific factors and were similar to those in a previous study on rats. With the exception of one rat, the results of the hook-choice training showed that the previous study and the present study had similar difficulty levels. In the tool-choice tests of the present study, rats did not choose the functional tools over the non-functional tools when there was no contradiction between their appearance and functionality, which contrasted with the previous study on which this study was based on. These results suggest that the training task that excludes tool-use-specific factors can be appropriately utilized as a control task for studies investigating the neural mechanisms behind tool-use in animals and, potentially, in humans. •Hook-choice training without tool-use-specific factors can be performed as a control task.•Prior tool-use training improved rats' performance in experimental tests.•Control task for rodents allows investigation of the neural mechanisms of tool-use.

SUBMITTER: Nagano A 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6911953 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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