Six horses (Equus caballus) were trained to discriminate color from grays in a counterbalanced sequence in which lightness cues were irrelevant. Subsequently, the pretrained colors were presented in a different sequence. Two sets of novel colors paired with novel grays were also tested. Performance was just as good in these transfer tests. Once the horse had learned to select the chromatic from the achromatic stimulus, regardless of the specific color, they were immediately able to apply this rule to novel stimuli. In terms of the underlying visual mechanisms, the present study showed for the first time that the spectral sensitivity of horse cone photopigments, measured as cone excitation ratios, was correlated with color discrimination performance, measured as accuracy, repeated errors, and latency of approach.
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