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Sex Differences in Spatial Memory in Brown-Headed Cowbirds: Males Outperform Females on a Touchscreen Task.

Guigueno MF, MacDougall-Shackleton SA, Sherry DF - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: On the colour task, females and males did not differ, but females performed better in breeding condition than in non-breeding condition.Although female cowbirds were observed to outperform males on a previous larger-scale spatial task, males performed better than females on a task testing spatial memory in the cowbirds' immediate visual field.Spatial abilities in cowbirds can favour males or females depending on the type of spatial task, as has been observed in mammals, including humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; Advanced Facility for Avian Research, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Spatial cognition in females and males can differ in species in which there are sex-specific patterns in the use of space. Brown-headed cowbirds are brood parasites that show a reversal of sex-typical space use often seen in mammals. Female cowbirds, search for, revisit and parasitize hosts nests, have a larger hippocampus than males and have better memory than males for a rewarded location in an open spatial environment. In the current study, we tested female and male cowbirds in breeding and non-breeding conditions on a touchscreen delayed-match-to-sample task using both spatial and colour stimuli. Our goal was to determine whether sex differences in spatial memory in cowbirds generalizes to all spatial tasks or is task-dependant. Both sexes performed better on the spatial than on the colour touchscreen task. On the spatial task, breeding males outperformed breeding females. On the colour task, females and males did not differ, but females performed better in breeding condition than in non-breeding condition. Although female cowbirds were observed to outperform males on a previous larger-scale spatial task, males performed better than females on a task testing spatial memory in the cowbirds' immediate visual field. Spatial abilities in cowbirds can favour males or females depending on the type of spatial task, as has been observed in mammals, including humans.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

A) Peak performance on the colour delayed-matching-to-sample touchscreen task.Performance was calculated from the last three sessions of the randomized retention intervals phase. Means of raw data are presented with ± SE. Proportion correct expected by chance equals 0.33. One female and one male were only tested in non-breeding condition and these missing points were corrected for in our linear mixed model, for which the only significant interaction is shown in B. B) Summary of the data shown in A) by sex and breeding condition, showing least squares means ± SE of arcsine transformed square root data. Females performed significantly better in breeding than in non-breeding condition, with no effect of breeding condition for males. Asterisks indicate p ≤ 0.05.
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pone.0128302.g003: A) Peak performance on the colour delayed-matching-to-sample touchscreen task.Performance was calculated from the last three sessions of the randomized retention intervals phase. Means of raw data are presented with ± SE. Proportion correct expected by chance equals 0.33. One female and one male were only tested in non-breeding condition and these missing points were corrected for in our linear mixed model, for which the only significant interaction is shown in B. B) Summary of the data shown in A) by sex and breeding condition, showing least squares means ± SE of arcsine transformed square root data. Females performed significantly better in breeding than in non-breeding condition, with no effect of breeding condition for males. Asterisks indicate p ≤ 0.05.

Mentions: There was a significant main effect of breeding condition (F1,11 = 8.60, p = 0.01), however, this effect was driven by females as there was a significant sex by breeding condition interaction (F1,11 = 12.41, p = 0.005), with females performing better in breeding condition than in non-breeding condition (t11 = 4.40, p = 0.001) and males’ performance showing no difference between breeding conditions (t11 = 0.44, p = 0.67; Fig 3). There was also a significant main effect of RI, with performance decreasing as RI increased (F3,39 = 5.52, p = 0.003; Fig 3A). There was no effect of sex and all other interactions were not significant (0.14 ≤ p ≤ 0.96; S1 Text, S3 Table).


Sex Differences in Spatial Memory in Brown-Headed Cowbirds: Males Outperform Females on a Touchscreen Task.

Guigueno MF, MacDougall-Shackleton SA, Sherry DF - PLoS ONE (2015)

A) Peak performance on the colour delayed-matching-to-sample touchscreen task.Performance was calculated from the last three sessions of the randomized retention intervals phase. Means of raw data are presented with ± SE. Proportion correct expected by chance equals 0.33. One female and one male were only tested in non-breeding condition and these missing points were corrected for in our linear mixed model, for which the only significant interaction is shown in B. B) Summary of the data shown in A) by sex and breeding condition, showing least squares means ± SE of arcsine transformed square root data. Females performed significantly better in breeding than in non-breeding condition, with no effect of breeding condition for males. Asterisks indicate p ≤ 0.05.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4470821&req=5

pone.0128302.g003: A) Peak performance on the colour delayed-matching-to-sample touchscreen task.Performance was calculated from the last three sessions of the randomized retention intervals phase. Means of raw data are presented with ± SE. Proportion correct expected by chance equals 0.33. One female and one male were only tested in non-breeding condition and these missing points were corrected for in our linear mixed model, for which the only significant interaction is shown in B. B) Summary of the data shown in A) by sex and breeding condition, showing least squares means ± SE of arcsine transformed square root data. Females performed significantly better in breeding than in non-breeding condition, with no effect of breeding condition for males. Asterisks indicate p ≤ 0.05.
Mentions: There was a significant main effect of breeding condition (F1,11 = 8.60, p = 0.01), however, this effect was driven by females as there was a significant sex by breeding condition interaction (F1,11 = 12.41, p = 0.005), with females performing better in breeding condition than in non-breeding condition (t11 = 4.40, p = 0.001) and males’ performance showing no difference between breeding conditions (t11 = 0.44, p = 0.67; Fig 3). There was also a significant main effect of RI, with performance decreasing as RI increased (F3,39 = 5.52, p = 0.003; Fig 3A). There was no effect of sex and all other interactions were not significant (0.14 ≤ p ≤ 0.96; S1 Text, S3 Table).

Bottom Line: On the colour task, females and males did not differ, but females performed better in breeding condition than in non-breeding condition.Although female cowbirds were observed to outperform males on a previous larger-scale spatial task, males performed better than females on a task testing spatial memory in the cowbirds' immediate visual field.Spatial abilities in cowbirds can favour males or females depending on the type of spatial task, as has been observed in mammals, including humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; Advanced Facility for Avian Research, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Spatial cognition in females and males can differ in species in which there are sex-specific patterns in the use of space. Brown-headed cowbirds are brood parasites that show a reversal of sex-typical space use often seen in mammals. Female cowbirds, search for, revisit and parasitize hosts nests, have a larger hippocampus than males and have better memory than males for a rewarded location in an open spatial environment. In the current study, we tested female and male cowbirds in breeding and non-breeding conditions on a touchscreen delayed-match-to-sample task using both spatial and colour stimuli. Our goal was to determine whether sex differences in spatial memory in cowbirds generalizes to all spatial tasks or is task-dependant. Both sexes performed better on the spatial than on the colour touchscreen task. On the spatial task, breeding males outperformed breeding females. On the colour task, females and males did not differ, but females performed better in breeding condition than in non-breeding condition. Although female cowbirds were observed to outperform males on a previous larger-scale spatial task, males performed better than females on a task testing spatial memory in the cowbirds' immediate visual field. Spatial abilities in cowbirds can favour males or females depending on the type of spatial task, as has been observed in mammals, including humans.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus