Study 2 - Recognition of Modified Conditioning Sounds by Competitively Trained Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs competing with food (an example of eating behavior, not related to the study itself)


Behavioral studies are rare on the guinea pig due to the fact that these animals are very difficult to train not to mention their complex personalities and skittish behavior patterns.


In this study, sound recognition was used to see if guinea pigs would be compelled to compete for food in an arena like setting after hearing a tone and also being starved. An example of Guinea pigs eating food is on the left although it is not directly related to the study itself.


If you look closely, you can also see that guinea pigs shift their mouths a lot when they are chewing quickly!

Background Information

There was 2 training periods that took place, and then the animals had to demonstrate specific behaviors upon hearing a stimulus.


“Guinea pigs emit 7 to 11 different species-specific calls with distinct types of social behavior associated with them (Ojima & Horikawa).


Purr calls are made up of identical short noise bursts repeating at approximately equal intervals, are emitted in conjunction with sexual behaviors like contact seeking, which implies that guinea pigs should recognize a difference in sounds or unnatural sound bursts

6 short-hair guinea pigs, three were 1 month old and 3 were 5 months during this study.

Fasting GP'S

In the study animals fasted, but were allowed water during the experiment. In addition, they were housed in a cage with lighting from 7am-8pm.


Similar to what is done in sound design, sounds for this experiment were originally derived by stepping on the laboratory floor, clapping hands, hitting a plastic cage, hitting a metal can, scratching a metal mesh, and lastly, jingling keys.


The CS sound was comprised of 10 segments ranging from DC up to 12kHZ, then Guinea pigs were fed round pellets 4-5mm in diameter with playback of the CS, done in pairs.

Guinea pig next to speakers

Sound sets

The guinea pigs were trained to detect the sounds of two different types of sound in 3-4 days.


Training sounds were combined with test sounds to make a test sound set, and these sounds were repeated to animals over 2 days following the 2 week training period.


The sounds recorded in each session consisted of sound waveforms in source files, sounds monitored by the in-chamber microphone, timings of feedings as well as head motions were recorded.

Additional Information + Results

On days 1 or 2 starved GP’s started to spontaneously emit a whistle call in order to demand food, but this likely because they need to eat a lot to maintain healthy digestion.


It was common to observe conflict behaviors such as keeping their body over the food saucer to block the competitor’s approach to it and/or inserting their snout at the orifice of the food hooper to interfere with the competitor’s food intake” (Ojima & Horikawa, 2016).


Guinea pigs are a lot easier to study, at least when it comes to hearing research because of their cochlea’s are of easily accessible size, and the frequency range of its audiogram overlaps, especially for the lower part, with that of the human extensively. Hopefully these animals can help us find more medical advances in the near future.

Source: Ojima, H., & Horikawa, J. (2016). Recognition of Modified Conditioning Sounds by Competitively Trained Guinea Pigs. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience,

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