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Pigeons process actor-action configurations more readily than bystander-action configurations

Authors
  • Qadri, Muhammad A. J.1
  • Cook, Robert G.1
  • 1 Tufts University, 490 Boston Ave, Medford, MA, 02155, USA , Medford (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & Behavior
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Feb 10, 2020
Volume
48
Issue
1
Pages
41–52
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/s13420-020-00416-7
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Behavior requires an actor. Two experiments using complex conditional action discriminations examined whether pigeons privilege information related to the digital actor who is engaged in behavior. In Experiment 1, each of two video displays contained a digital model, one an actor engaged in one of two behaviors (Indian dance or martial arts) and one a neutrally posed bystander. To correctly classify the display, the pigeons needed to conditionally process the action in conjunction with distinctive physical features of the actor or the bystander. Four actor-conditional pigeons learned to correctly discriminate the actions based on the identity of the actors, whereas four bystander-conditional birds failed to learn. Experiment 2 established that this failure was not due to the latter group’s inability to spatially integrate information across the distance between the two models. Potentially, the colocalization of the relevant model identity and the action was critical due to a fundamental configural or integral representation of these properties. These findings contribute to our understanding of the evolution of action recognition, the recognition of social behavior, and forms of observational learning by animals.

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