Learning to learn: Single session acquisition of new rules by freely moving mice

Amir Levi, Noam Aviv, Eran Stark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Learning from examples and adapting to new circumstances are fundamental attributes of human cognition. However, it is unclear what conditions allow for fast and successful learning, especially in nonhuman subjects. To determine how rapidly freely moving mice can learn a new discrimination criterion (DC), we design a two-alternative forced-choice visual discrimination paradigm in which the DCs governing the task can change between sessions. We find that experienced animals can learn a new DC after being exposed to only five training and three testing trials. The propensity for single session learning improves over time and is accurately predicted based on animal experience and criterion difficulty. After establishing the procedural learning of a paradigm, mice continuously improve their performance in new circumstances. Thus, mice learn to learn.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberpgae203
JournalPNAS Nexus
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2024


FundersFunder number
Zimin Institute for Engineering Solutions Advancing Better Lives, Tel Aviv University
International Development Research Centre
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2015577
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation
European Research Council679253
European Research Council
Israel Science Foundation1871/17
Israel Science Foundation
Azrieli Foundation2558/18
Azrieli Foundation


    • animal cognition
    • associative learning
    • hybrid mice
    • reference memory
    • visual discrimination


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