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Effects of social housing on reversal learning and fearfulness in dairy calves Meagher, Rebecca K.; Daros, Rolnei Ruã; Costa, João H.C.; von Keyserlingk, Marina A.G.; Hötzel, Maria; Weary, Daniel M.


Early life social deprivation can cause cognitive deficits, behavioural abnormalities, and anxiety in rodents and primates. This study investigated its effects on dairy calves. First single-housed calves were compared to calves reared in a complex social group in their ability to learn a discrimination reversal. In the second experiment, individual calves were compared with those raised in pairs from 6 d, in pairs from 42 d, and complex group from early life. Both reversal learning and anxiety (fear of novel objects) was assessed. The results, showing learning deficits and elevated anxiety in single-housed calves, and intermediate learning abilities in late paired calves, are reported in a paper under revision for PLOS One. The data provided give individual IDs, treatment (level of social housing), dates training and testing occurred, success or failure at reversal learning and number of sessions taken to reach the learning criterion, latencies to touch the novel object or a human handler, counts of other fear-related behaviours during the test (e.g. retreats), and notes on relevant health information, etc.

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