The Pigeon Parlance Project
A student laboratory procedure for teaching simple analogs of verbal behavior to pigeons is described. The three kinds of stimulus-response relations are analogs to the topography-based tact, the stimulus-selection-based tact, and receptive language. In the topography-based tact the pigeon exhibits a particular topography (pecking the left foot) when shown a particular nonverbal stimulus (a red plastic ball). In the selection-based tact the pigeon pecks a particular verbal stimulus or lexigram when shown the lexigram. In each case a set of several topographies, nonverbal stimuli, and lexigrams is involved, and food reinforcement is only received if the relation is the correct one. The procedure requires no special apparatus and can be used by students at any level.
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