An Exploration of Numerical Abilities in Rats
Samantha Renaud ‘11
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Richard Keen
Psychology major Samantha Renaud enjoyed taking classes in the experimental field, including Psychology of Learning and Animal Behavior. This research project combined her interests.
For this project, experiments were conducted to study rats’ numerical discrimination abilities. The first experiment was designed to disentangle the influence of time in numerical discrimination studies.
Using a partial correlation analysis, Renaud and Keen found that both stimulus duration and stimulus frequency had a significant impact on choice with frequency having a greater influence. The results could help us understand the basic processes of numerical abilities in animals and humans.
“Research helps tie in all the concepts of psychology that we learn in the classroom,” says Renaud. “I learned how to develop an experimental procedure, analyze statistical data, and write proposals for the institutional review board and grants.”