Expertise acquisition as sustained learning in humans and other animals: Commonalities across species

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Expertise acquisition may be a universal attribute of animals. In this study data on foraging efficiency, or expertise, was compared for four species: honeybees (Apis mellifera), oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and humans (Homo sapiens). Polynomial regression models were constructed to investigate the relationship between age and foraging efficiency. There was a similar expertise-acquisition function between age and foraging efficiency across species, best described by a quadratic equation. The peak of performance was reached, in all cases, before the average age of death but well after reaching physical maturity and the percentage of lifespan devoted to the skill was more than 10% of the species-typical lifespan. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.

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Animal Cognition