Animal Cognition

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 321–341 | Cite as

Learning of an oddity rule by pigeons in a four-choice touch-screen procedure

Original Paper

Abstract

Six pigeons were trained to peck at a target (odd stimulus) that was presented on a touch-screen together with three identical distractors (non-odd stimuli). The target could be either a square or a circle that was either blue or green, and the distractors in each trial were always of the opposite form and color to the target. Thus, the birds could solve the task by attending to color, form, or both. Transfer tests showed that performance was not disrupted by novel forms, stimulus sizes, distractor numbers, and display configurations, but broke down with novel stimulus types (textured stimuli, clip art images, and photographs). Transfer to novel colors was, for the most part, restricted to trials in which only one component—target or distractors, but not both—had a novel color. This suggested that the pigeons used a couple of if–then rules rather than an oddity concept to solve the task, and that color differences between target and distractors were the only cue upon which responding was based. A control experiment with the order of color and form tests being reversed excluded the possibility of the prevalence of color being an artifact of task order and reinforcement contingencies.

Keywords

Oddity concept If–then rules Color Form Pigeons 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Aerosol Physics and Environmental Physics, Faculty of PhysicsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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