Abstract: Dolphin cognitive abilities have been examined by establishing a concept-oriented cue, the innovate discriminative stimulus (SD), wherein an individual is required to perform something new or different upon each stimulus given. Although a number of facilities have trained this behavior with a wide range of species, neither the training nor the level of creativity in response to this cue has been researched systematically. Moreover, differing criteria exist for whether novel or different behaviors should be defined as innovative as evidenced by the research to date. Ultimately, our goal is to establish a research and training protocol for using the innovate SD to assess the creative abilities in nonhuman species. We compared innovate training methodologies used with dolphins specifically, although a number of other species have been trained on this behavior based on anecdotal reports. Our literature review, including discussions with trainers, indicated that a number of potential pitfalls occur when training this cognitive task (e.g., avoid shaping a chained behavioral response). This methodological review provides both a clear definition of the criteria accepted for innovative behavior and a suggested approach for training and testing this concept in dolphins. Finally, the more unambiguously that we understand innovative behavior in a controlled setting, such as under stimulus control, the more we will be able to gain from studies of spontaneous behavior and other examples of behavioral innovation observed in the wild.
Key Words: innovative, creative, cognition, training approach, bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus
Page Numbers: 426-436