Impaired Learning In The Aged

We developed a number of tests to investigate age-related changes in canine learning. Specific tests were designed to examine procedural learning, associative learning, and more complex types of learning.

Procedural learning The procedural learning task, designed to assess skill acquisition in the dog, consists of two learning phases: reward-approach and object-approach learning (Milgram et al., 1994). Procedural learning is well preserved in normal human aging (Vakil and Agmon-Ashkenazi, 1997) and Alzheimer's disease (Almkvist, 1996). In dogs, however, procedural learning depends on previous rearing experience. Aged dogs raised as pets, having diverse and varied life experiences, perform as well as or better than young dogs. Conversely, old kennel-reared dogs with limited experiences in the environment are slower than

Sliding Plexiglas tray

Figure 35.1 Toronto General Test Apparatus (TGTA) used to assess cognitive function in the Beagle dog. See the color plate section.

Sliding Plexiglas tray

Figure 35.1 Toronto General Test Apparatus (TGTA) used to assess cognitive function in the Beagle dog. See the color plate section.

Discrimination Learning

Object Discrimination

Object Learning and Memory Task

Size Discrimination

Oddity Discrimination

Delay

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