Standard indicators of fearfulness in the novel objects tests — for example, heart rate and alertness — were found to be unrelated to learning performance, whereas exploratory behaviour towards the novel objects correlated to performance in the two learning tasks.,The study team said the exploratory behaviour in the novel object tests likely reflects the animal’s intrinsic motivation and curiosity, suggesting that this trait is favourable for learning performance.,“Young horses’ intrinsic motivation to explore novel objects was positively associated to learning performance in both a positively and a negatively reinforced task,” they reported, “whereas traditional measures of fearfulness, such as alertness and heart rate responses, were unrelated to learning performance.”,The authors said their results are the first to suggest that novel object-directed curiosity could be central to cognitive performance in horses across different types of learning tasks; an association that has previously been demonstrated mainly in humans and primates.,They said their study provides the first evidence of a link between object-directed curiosity and learning performance in young horses in two very different learning tasks (visual discrimination and pressure-release).

Drug use among students decline Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Monday released the findings of a survey that shows overall drug use by California students has declined for the first time in a decade.,However, the preliminary findings of the Biennial California Student Survey also showed the level of excessive alcohol and drug use by heavy users remained unchanged, and the use of heroin by 11th graders has increased, according to a spokesman.,Marijuana use among freshmen and junior high school students has decreased substantially overall, a trend that peaked in 1995 and leveled out in 1997, Barankin said.,Barankin said the largest declines were found in alcohol use, but noted that although student alcohol consumption has fallen for the first time in 15 years, it still remains high.,High school juniors reporting heroin use in the last six months increased from 1.7 percent in 1997-98 to 5.2 percent this year, and remained rare among other grades.