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Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 167, Issue 4, pp 545–549 | Cite as

Vibrational sensitivity of the wing of the pigeon (Columba livia) — a study using heart rate conditioning

  • Wolfgang Hörster
Article

Summary

The vibrational sensitivity of awake pigeons was tested with the heart rate conditioning method. This method proved to be a very sensitive instrument for the behavioural measurement of the pigeon's sensitivity to mechanical stimuli.

Sine wave vibrational stimuli between 50 and 2000 Hz were applied to the 1st, 7th and 16th primary feathers of the wing. The resulting threshold curves were U- or V-shaped with 3 characteristics: (i) The frequency of best response was either 800 or 900 Hz. (ii) Within the broad frequency range of vibrational sensitivity (50 to 2000 Hz) the sensitivity was extremely high at the best frequency: threshold amplitudes lay between 0.5 and 0.09 μm. (iii) The threshold curves showed very sharp tuning at best frequency with bandwidths between 0.3 and 0.7 octaves (measured at best frequency 10fold above threshold). The functional meaning of the characteristic vibrational sensitivity of the wing for flight control is discussed; it is interpreted as an adaptation to special situations occurring during flight.

Key words

Pigeons Heart rate conditioning Vibrational sensitivity Flight control 

Abbreviations

CR

conditioned response

CS

conditioned stimulus

ECG

electrocardiogram

HC(s)

Herbst corpuscle(s)

UCS

unconditioned stimulus

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Hörster
    • 1
  1. 1.Allgemeine PsychologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzFederal Republic of Germany

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