Electric shock for aversion training of jumping spiders: towards an arachnid model of avoidance learning

Tina Peckmezian*, Phillip W. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Electric shock is used widely as an aversive stimulus in conditioning experiments, yet little attention has been given to its physiological effects and their consequences for bioassays. In the present study, we provide a detailed characterization of how electric shock affects the mobility and behaviour of Servaea incana, a jumping spider. We begin with four mobility assays and then narrow our focus to a single effective assay with which we assess performance and behaviour. Based on our findings, we suggest a voltage range that may be employed as an aversive stimulus while minimizing decrements in physical performance and other aspects of behaviour. Additionally, we outline a novel method for constructing electric shock platforms that overcome some of the constraints of traditional methods while being highly effective and easily modifiable to suit the study animal and experimental context. Finally, as a demonstration of the viability of our aversive stimulus in a passive avoidance conditioning task, we successfully train spiders to associate a dark compartment with electric shock. Future research using electric shock as an aversive stimulus with terrestrial invertebrates such as spiders and insects may benefit from the flexible and reliable methods outlined in the present study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Processes
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Aversive stimulus
  • Electric shock
  • Jumping spider
  • Learning
  • Mobility

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