In the first study of its kind, researchers from the United Kingdom have discovered that cribbing horses learn differently than horses that don't crib.
Cribbing is a stereotypy in which a horse grasps an object between his incisor teeth and inhales air into the esophagus while emitting an audible grunting noise. It is the most common stereotypy among stabled horses.
Previous research has suggested that changes in the chemical pathways in specific regions of the brain appear to be important in environmentally-induced stereotypies such as cribbing. In particular, cribbers reportedly have fewer types of dopamine receptors in a specific region of the brain referred to as the dorsomedial striatum.
"Post-mortem studies have illustrated that crib-biting horses have differences in some brain areas," explained Matthew Parker, MSc, a doctoral candidate in the School of Psychology at the University of Southampton. "We wanted to see how this affected their learning."
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