I. Project Description and General Information
Since the world of Science has evolved, the experiments of scientists and other researchers also improve and get more complicated and may sometimes sound ridiculous. In modern Psychology, specifically in studying certain behaviors, animals have become subjects of some experiments. Now, why do we use Guinea pigs or other animals like rabbits, rats, monkeys and others to conduct trainings or experiments? Well, majority of the scientists all over the world have been used to directing and conducting animal studies which have become very rampant nowadays and which serve as a field to focus on animal behavior in a variety of cross-disciplinary ways. Animals have often been used as subjects primarily because it is less expensive and it is more distant to unethical situations just like conducting physiological manipulations (to human beings) particularly brain lesions, sensory deprivations and more. Animals, especially those reared in laboratories can be easily controlled and observed which give way to the formation of more desirable data that can possibly be likened to those of the human beings.
II. Project Statement
This project will focus more about dealing with guinea pigs and getting know what it can do as well as training it to form its “cognitive map” or discovering its way out of the maze. It is expected that the trainers/students will be able to discover and grasp the behavior of the animal in order for them to get along with it easily and to successfully condition it to what it should do.
III. Project Objectives
Every experiment or proposal has its expected outcome(s). It is important that the expectations of the group will not selfishly depend on “what they just have to get or achieve.” Whatever the results are, it is significant that the learning and acquisitions from the experiment will be then applied in everyday situations. The following are the intentions, aims and goals of the students/trainers behind this project: • To get to know more about the animal (Guinea pig) as well as its likes, dislikes and whatever that grabs its attention • To train the animal with proper care and patience and help build its cognitive map to help it get out of the maze • To build a healthy relationship between the animal and the trainers • To give the animal proper attention and exercise its intelligence • To provide the animal’s physiological and biological needs • To be able to grasp and comprehend how the Guinea pig behaves and how it can be compared to other animals and even to human beings • To finally apply and practice the gained knowledge about the theories of learning • To discover more about the importance of animal studies in Cognitive Neuroscience • For the students/trainers: To pass 50% of the exam and 10% of the final grade
What are the benefits of this project? • The Guinea pig will have been able to exercise its learning. • The students will be able to value cooperation, patience, perseverance, tenderness and determination toward the animal and toward each other in order to have a harmonious relationship. • The animal care level of the students will increase tremendously especially when they have been able to realize how an animal should be treated and be taken cared of. • Animal research and experiments will be widened and will be enhanced more when applied properly to everyday situations. • Queries about some behavior will easily be observed easily by just the use of animals if one has already mastered how the experiments would run and what desirable attitudes he must invest. • The theories of learning will be more elaborated, practiced and applied in day-to-day activities. • The students will finally and fully appreciate the importance of animal studies in Cognitive Neuroscience. What are the theories of learning that could be possibly applied during the training?
We will associate here the “The Three Theories of Learning” by Edward Lee Thorndike which are the law of readiness, exercise and effect. Before we start the experiment, we should first condition the Guinea pig and make it ready so that it will not be shocked or stressed about the activities that we are going to introduce to it. The assigned trainer should also be ready in handling the experiment to avoid any failure or any disruption. Whatever the successful activities and procedures are must be continued and exercised more so that the animal will easily forget the things that it has learned during the experiment. If the things related to the activity will be associated well, then there will be a good result.
We will also apply here the “Classical conditioning” by Ivan Pavlov because we are going to associate food and a bell in order for the Guinea pig to pass through the maze easily. These stimuli when applied at the same time will grab the attention of the animal making it be more alert in the activity.
IV. Do’s and Don’ts in handling Guinea Pig
Do’s The guinea pig
We prepared a series of tasks and goals that should be achieved during the training. We will have it done one at a time until the Guinea Pig has mastered the maze as well as successfully going through the obstacles. The following are the tasks and goals that should be achieved during a specific week:
First week of training:
During the first week of preparation and training, we will first finalize the structure of the maze consisting of three entrances and three exits with at least six turns in entrance 1 to exit 1, entrance 2 to exit 2 and entrance 3 to exit 3 as well as placing corresponding obstacles. It is also important that we will observe the animal first before the training proper so that we can easily adjust to its weaknesses and its strengths. By then, we will let the animal explore the maze for a couple of minutes during its first encounter with it. We also plan to starve the animal first before we start every session (this will be done all throughout the project length). Afterwards, we will start the one-route training (starting with the easiest one) by using different strategies and techniques without hurting the animal. This is also the time that we will now associate the food and the bell. If ever the animal has mastered the first route or path, we will then start to position and introduce it to the second one.
Second week of training:
The procedure will be the same but the training will get even more difficult as the animal is being placed into a new path and letting it pass through an obstacle. When the animal has already mastered the second route, we will then introduce it to the third one. However, while we are training the animal to successfully go through the second one, there will be times that we will try to put it back to the first one so that whatever is installed in its mind will be made recent until the end of the training.
Third week of training:
By this time, the Guinea Pig should have mastered the first and second routes and should be finished with the third one. Once it has accomplished everything including obstacles, we will start to randomly assign it to any entrance.
Fourth week of training:
We will repeatedly continue the activities we have accomplished during the first three weeks. This will serve as the polishing part and so that the Guinea pig will enhance its cognitive map and for us to accomplish a successful training. We will also record some scenes during some sessions to serve as a back-up if ever the said animal will die or lose its mind before the final performance.