Crickets Need a “Surprise” to Learn

Research Press Release | March 25, 2015

A cricket searches for a pattern combined with a reward (water) in a memory test after learning practice.
A cricket searches for a pattern combined with a reward (water) in a memory test after learning practice.

Press Release
Key Points ・  In mammals such as humans, “prediction error” theory proposes that learning occurs when we are encountered with an unexpected occurrence, or through “surprise”.

・  This learning theory has been widely publicized, but disagreement between the opposing theories still remains.

・  Our research was able to explain how crickets learn via prediction error theory, and showed that their behavior cannot be explained by an opposing theory; which is definitive behavioral evidence of  prediction error theory.

Overview In associative learning in mammals such as humans, a prediction error theory has been suggested. This theory is widely accepted, but behavioral proof has been incomplete. Kanta Terao (graduate student) and Professor Makoto Mizunami of Hokkaido University, and Assistant Professor Yukihisa Matsumoto of Tokyo Medical and Dental University have demonstrated that learning by crickets can be explained by the prediction error theory, but not by alternative theories. “Surprise” is required for a cricket to learn. Furthermore, we suggest that in the neurons transmitting prediction error of reward in crickets, octopamine is used as the transmitter.

Makoto Mizunami, Graduate School of  Life Science, Hokkaido University

TEL & FAX: +81-11-706-3446


Mizunami Laboratory




Critical evidence for the prediction error theory in associative learning, Scientific Reports  (2.10.2015)


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