Symbolic Matching-To-Sample Employing Pictorial Stimulus Classes
Four pigeons were trained on a 6-key modified symbolic matching-to-sample procedure. The stimuli were paired based on humanly defined stimulus classes, for example, faces, signs, playing cards, trees, birds, and butterflies. The second peck on the sample key lighted only one comparison key. Every two pecks on the sample lighted another comparison key, up to a maximum of five keys. Pecks on keys of symbolically matching pictures (e.g., if the sample was a face, the bird pecked the comparison key that presented another face) produced grain. Pecks on nonmatching keys (e.g., pictures of signs or playing cards) turned off all lights on the comparison keys and repeated the trial. The birds learned to peck each sample until the symbolically matching comparison stimulus appeared on one of the five comparison stimulus keys, and then to peck that key. Later, the birds showed symbolic matching transfer to novel samples, novel comparison stimuli, and some novel stimulus classes. The birds showed better transfer with visually similar (tree-tree) relative to visually dissimilar (cups-butterflies) stimulus pairs, and learned to avoid the sample stimulus when it appeared as an incorrect comparison stimulus choice.
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