Individual differences in behavior predict early reversal learning performance in stickleback.

Miles’ newest paper was published in Animal Cognition this month. Miles found that individual differences in behavior were predictive of how well stickleback performed on a reversal learning task, and that these patterns of correlation suggest there are cognitive trade-off between how individuals cope with environmental change/stressors (i.e., coping styles). Proactive individuals that were more likely to quickly approach a novel object, be bolder, more persistent, and learn a novel task faster, performed worse on a reversal learning task than their more reactive counterparts. However, the timing of the reversal learning performance measure was important for seeing these trade-offs. Proactive individuals did worse on the early trials of reversal learning, and thus had a harder time switching away from previously reinforced patterns, but Miles found no difference in how long it took proactive and reactive individuals to learn to consistently follow the reversed search pattern (i.e., time to learning criterion).