Task- and age-dependent relationships between personality and cognition in the red junglefowl (#155)
Cognition is defined as the way individuals perceive, process, store and act on environmental stimuli. Variation in cognitive processes can therefore strongly influence individuals’ lives. Nevertheless, individual variation in cognition is investigated only in a limited number of species, and why there is individual variation is not well understood. A recently advancing research field in biology is ‘animal personality’, focusing on causes and consequences of consistent individual behavioural responses. Despite the potential interactions between cognition and personality, the relationship between them is still poorly investigated. Here, we explored links between cognition and personality by exposing young and adult red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) to a series of learning tasks and personality assays. The learning speed of individuals across tasks did not correlate, suggesting that there is no overall more ‘intelligent’ type. Variation in learning speed in simpler tasks was not influenced by personality. On the other hand, learning speed in a complex cognitive task was linked to exploration, but in opposite directions for juveniles and adult females. Explorative chicks learned faster than less explorative chicks, while for adult females, less explorative individuals were the faster learners. Our results demonstrate that individual variation in cognition can be related to personality where particularly variation in exploration is linked to variation in learning. Further, these results demonstrate that the relationship is task-dependent and can change over time. Our results therefore encourage further exploration of causality and investigation of the mechanisms underlying this relationship.