Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Paper Session #47A
How Bettas Spend Their Time in a Shuttle Tank: Effects of Water Disturbances and Mirror Images on Preference
Friday, September 2, 2022
3:00 PM–3:25 PM
Meeting Level 1; Liffey Meeting 2
Area: EAB
Chair: Camilo Hurtado Parrado (Southern Illinois University)
How Bettas Spend Their Time in a Shuttle Tank: Effects of Water Disturbances and Mirror Images on Preference
Domain: Basic Research
CAMILO HURTADO-PARRADO (Southern Illinois University), Alejandro Segura (Universidad de Guadalajara), Claudia Ford (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Julian Cifuentes (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Palmira, Colombia), Connor Eyre (SIUC Graduate Student )
Abstract: The aversive function of water flows (WFs) for the behavior of male Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) was demonstrated in recent studies (Hurtado-Parrado, 2015; Hunter et al., 2019; Hurtado-Parrado et al., 2019). Bettas learned to escape (interrupt) or avoid (delay) WFs periodically delivered via switching compartments in a shuttle tank. The present study explored effects of variations of the original WF protocol on preference of male bettas. Experiment 1 tested the aversive function of continuous non-contingent water disturbances produced by streams of air bubbles (ABs) delivered from the bottom of the tank. Overall, bettas showed slight bias for one of the compartments during baseline (BL) sessions in which no ABs were present. Introduction of the ABs into one or both compartments did not produce consistent and major changes in BL preference. Conversely, continuous delivery of the same WFs used in previous studies resulted in dramatic changes in preference for non-disturbed areas (80-90% session time allocated to the non-disturbed compartment). It is possible that ABs may not have the same aversive function than WFs because of differences in response-effort requirement. Experiment 2 tested the effects of adding a continuous non-contingent mirror image to one of the compartments, which is a stimulus widely-known for its reinforcing functions for the behavior of bettas (e.g., Higa & Simm, 2005). Bettas showed strong and consistent preference for the compartment with the mirror image (beyond 85% session time) during BL sessions without WFs. Introduction of the WFs into the compartment with the mirror image produced a change in preference for the compartment without WFs and mirror, in most fish reaching beyond 80% session time. These findings overall extend the generality of the aversive function of WFs, including evidence of a punishing effect during Experiment 2. Ongoing scoring and analyses of session videos from both experiments are aimed at characterizing patterns of different responses (e.g., crossings across compartments and aggressive display), and spatiotemporal distribution across specific areas of the tank (e.g., near the door, mirror, or under the water pumps).



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