Social learning lecture (In Hungarian) (Course code: bbbn9107)

General obligatory, 2 credits, 90 minutes/weekly
Semester: in autumn
Requirement: exam (5) (oral exam)
Recommended studies: Ethology
Responsible person: Péter Pongrácz, PhD
Lecturer: Péter Pongrácz, PhD


1. What is social learning? Types of learning. The adaptivity behind social learning. Mechanism, function, ontogeny and evolution
2. Transmission of food-preference. Ecological circumstances. Transmission of food-preference in a generalist species, the rat. Transmission of food-preference in a herbivorous species: the rabbit

3. Learning of acoustic communication – transmission of birdsong. Ecological circumstances. Neuronal and hormonal changes and effects. Sensitive periods, the role of the ‘audience’
4. Learning during foraging in birds – I. Occurrence among taxa, ecological circumstances. Race among cashers and pilferers in ravens
5. Learning during foraging in birds – II. Do keas imitate? (And if not, why?)
6. Learning during foraging in birds – III. Unrevealing possible mechanisms of social learning in the budgerigar
7. Social learning in dogs I. Ecological circumstances. Social learning in wild living canids. Functional aspects of social learning in dogs
8. Social learning in dogs II. Separation of possible mechanisms of information transfer. Contagion, enhancement, imitation. The „Do as I do” method in studying social learning of dogs
9. Social learning in apes I. Ecological circumstances, observations in the wild, animal cultures. Possible methods for testing imitative social learning. Imitation after ‘unsuccessful demonstration’
10. Social learning in apes II. Studies on gorillas. Imitation of behavioral sequences and patterns
11. Social learning in apes III. Studies on orangutans. Deferred imitation and ‘generalization’
12. Teaching behavior – Biological definition of teaching. Sensitivity to teaching – the theory of natural pedagogy. Teaching in the domestic fowl