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Topographical variations in behavior during autoshaping, automaintenance, and omission training

  • Gloria D. Eldridge
  • Joseph J. Pear
Publication Date
May 01, 1987


Three pigeons were exposed to an autoshaping and automaintenance procedure while a computer-controlled tracking system continuously recorded the position of the bird's head as it moved freely in the experimental chamber. Although only 2 birds pecked the key during the conditional stimulus (red keylight), all 3 birds exhibited stable patterns of approaching the conditional stimulus and withdrawing from the intertrial stimulus (white keylight). Subsequent exposure to an omission procedure, in which pecks on the red key cancelled the presentation of food upon the termination of the red keylight, greatly reduced key pecking, but approaching and pecking in the vicinity of the conditional stimulus were maintained at high levels. When the omission contingency was removed key pecking increased. During all phases the birds withdrew from the area of the white key and engaged in repetitive back-and-forth or circuiting movements during this intertrial stimulus. The data document (a) the strong control the conditional stimulus in autoshaping and automaintenance exerts over approach to the key and pecking motions whether or not the conditional stimulus elicits key pecking at a high level; and (b) withdrawal from the vicinity of the key and the occurrence of stereotypic behavior during the intertrial interval.

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