Animal Cognition

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 581–591 | Cite as

Multiple cue use and integration in pigeons (Columba livia)

  • Eric L. G. Legge
  • Christopher R. Madan
  • Marcia L. SpetchEmail author
  • Elliot A. Ludvig
Original Paper


Encoding multiple cues can improve the accuracy and reliability of navigation and goal localization. Problems may arise, however, if one cue is displaced and provides information which conflicts with other cues. Here we investigated how pigeons cope with cue conflict by training them to locate a goal relative to two landmarks and then varying the amount of conflict between the landmarks. When the amount of conflict was small, pigeons tended to integrate both cues in their search patterns. When the amount of conflict was large, however, pigeons used information from both cues independently. This context-dependent strategy for resolving spatial cue conflict agrees with Bayes optimal calculations for using information from multiple sources.


Cue integration Spatial navigation Bayesian Pigeons Hierarchical Win-shift Spatial cognition Cue-conflict Computational modeling 



The authors are thankful to Isaac Lank for help in designing and maintain the experimental apparatus and the many undergraduate research assistants who helped run daily experimental trials. We especially thank Carla Edgington and Andrea Nicole Savignac for their exceptional work scoring, coordinating subject run schedules, and running subjects. Funding was provided by a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada Discovery grant #38861 to MLS, and NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships (Doctoral-level) to ELGL and CRM.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical statement

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Alberta and the Canadian Council on Animal Care and were approved by the Bioscience Animal Care and Use Committee.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric L. G. Legge
    • 1
  • Christopher R. Madan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marcia L. Spetch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elliot A. Ludvig
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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