The Psychological Record

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 83–88 | Cite as

Assessing Stimulus Control in a Discrimination Task with Compound Stimuli: Evaluating Testing Procedures and Tracking Eye Fixations

  • William F. PerezEmail author
  • Peter Endemann
  • Candido V. B. B. Pessôa
  • Gerson Y. Tomanari
Original Article


Experiments with pigeons have suggested that the way stimuli are arranged in tests affects the demonstration of the stimulus control established during training. The present study aimed to replicate these findings with humans exposed to a simultaneous-discrimination task with compound stimuli. Adults were exposed to a discrimination task, and their eye fixations were recorded. Two compound stimuli were used: a triangle and a red circle, and a square and a green circle. During Phase 1, responses to the first compound were reinforced, and during Phase 2, these contingencies were reversed. Following training in each phase, the components of the stimulus compound were separated and presented across different tests to assess stimulus control by each stimulus component. Participants tended to choose the component on which their eyes had most frequently fixated during training. However, the S+ component that was associated with fewer fixations also controlled participants’ choices. Results on tests replicate previous findings with pigeons. Possible effects of peripheral vision are discussed.


Attention Compound stimulus Eye movements Humans Simultaneous discrimination 


Author’s note

During the preparation of the manuscript, the authors were supported by the following grants: William Ferreira Perez by FAPESP (doctoral fellowship, Grant # 2011/19125-2), Peter Endemann by CNPq (doctoral fellowship, Grant # 140636/2009-9), Candido V. B. B. Pessôa by FAPESP (post-doc fellowship, Grant # 2011/19125-2), and Gerson Y. Tomanari by CNPq. Data collection and preparation of the manuscript were supported by CNPq (Grant # 573972/2008-7) and FAPESP (Grant # 08/57705-8), both at the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino (INCT-ECCE), coordinated by Dr. Deisy G. de Souza (UFSCar).

We are grateful to Saulo Velasco, Erik Arntzen, the editor and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on early versions of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William F. Perez
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Peter Endemann
    • 1
  • Candido V. B. B. Pessôa
    • 1
  • Gerson Y. Tomanari
    • 1
  1. 1.University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Núcleo Paradigma de Análise do ComportamentoSão PauloBrazil

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