Lack of Interference in Long-Term Memory for Socially Learned Food Preferences in Rats (Rattus norvegicus).
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Outside the laboratory, rats (Rattus norvegicus) are likely both to interact with several conspecifics that have eaten various foods and to eat a variety of foods themselves before they encounter any particular food for which they have a socially enhanced preference. Here the authors examine the stability of rats' socially learned food preferences following 6 days of potentially disruptive ingestive experiences. The authors found that 6 days of (a) eating unfamiliar foods, (b) interacting with demonstrators that had eaten unfamiliar foods, or (c) both eating unfamiliar foods and interacting with demonstrators that had eaten those foods had no measurable effect on rats' socially learned food preferences. The stability of socially enhanced food preferences over time and despite potentially disruptive experiences is consistent with the view that social learning about foods is an important determinant of the food choices of free-living Norway rats.
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