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Midsession reversal learning by pigeons: Effect on accuracy of increasing the number of stimuli associated with one of the alternatives

Authors
  • Zentall, Thomas R.1
  • Peng, Daniel N.1
  • House, Dalton C.1
  • Yadav, Ryan1
  • 1 University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 40506-0044, USA , Lexington (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & Behavior
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Aug 16, 2019
Volume
47
Issue
4
Pages
326–333
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/s13420-019-00390-9
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The midsession reversal task involves a simultaneous discrimination in which choice of one stimulus (S1) is correct for the first 40 trials and choice of the other stimulus (S2) is correct for the last 40 trials of each 80-trial session. When pigeons are trained on the midsession reversal task, they appear to use the passage of time from the start of the session as a cue to reverse. As the reversal approaches, they begin to make anticipatory errors, choosing S2 early, and following the reversal they make perseverative errors, continuing to choose S1. Recent research suggests that anticipatory errors can be reduced (while not increasing perseverative errors) by reducing the probability of reinforcement for correct S2 choices from 100% to 20%. A similar effect can be found by increasing the response requirement for choice of S2 from one peck to ten pecks. In the present experiments, we asked if a similar effect could be attained by increasing the number of stimuli that, over trials, could serve as S2. Instead, in both experiments, we found that increasing the number of S2 stimuli actually increased the number of anticipatory errors. Several interpretations of this result are provided, including the possibility that attention to the variable S2 stimuli may have interfered with attention to the S1 stimulus.

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