Learning & Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 40–46 | Cite as

Midsession reversals with pigeons: visual versus spatial discriminations and the intertrial interval

  • Jennifer R. Laude
  • Jessica P. Stagner
  • Rebecca Rayburn-Reeves
  • Thomas R. Zentall
Article

Abstract

Discrimination reversal learning has been used as a measure of species flexibility in dealing with changes in reinforcement contingency. In the simultaneous-discrimination, midsession-reversal task, one stimulus (S1) is correct for the first half of the session, and the other stimulus (S2) is correct for the second half. After training, pigeons show a curious pattern of choices: They begin to respond to S2 well before the reversal point (i.e., they make anticipatory errors), and they continue to respond to S1 well after the reversal (i.e., they make perseverative errors). That is, pigeons appear to be using the passage of time or the number of trials into the session as a cue to reverse, and are less sensitive to the feedback at the point of reversal. To determine whether the nature of the discrimination or a failure of memory for the stimulus chosen on the preceding trial contributed to the pigeons’ less-than-optimal performance, we manipulated the nature of the discrimination (spatial or visual) and the duration of the intertrial interval (5.0 or 1.5 s), in order to determine the conditions under which pigeons would show efficient reversal learning. The major finding was that only when the discrimination was spatial and the intertrial interval was short did the pigeons perform optimally.

Keywords

Discrimination learning Midsession reversal Spatial Visual Timing Intertrial interval Pigeons 

References

  1. Bechara, A., Tranel, D., & Damasio, H. (2000). Characterization of the decision-making impairment of patients with bilateral lesions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Brain, 123, 2189–2202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beran, M. J., Klein, E. D., Evans, T. A., Chan, B., Flemming, T. M., Harris, E. H., & Rumbaugh, D. M. (2008). Discrimination reversal learning in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Psychological Record, 58, 3–14.Google Scholar
  3. Bitterman, M. E. (1975). The comparative analysis of learning. Science, 188, 699–709. doi:10.1126/science.188.4189.699 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bond, A. B., Kamil, A., & Balda, R. P. (2007). Serial reversal learning and the evolution of behavioral flexibility in three species of north American corvids (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus, Nucifraga columbiana, Aphelocoma californica). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 121, 372–379.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bushnell, P. J., & Stanton, M. E. (1991). Serial spatial reversal learning in rats: Comparison of instrumental and automaintenance procedures. Physiology and Behavior, 50, 1145–1151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cook, R. G., & Rosen, H. A. (2010). Temporal control of internal states in pigeons. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 915–922. doi:10.3758/PBR.17.6.915 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Mackintosh, N. J., McGonigle, B., Holgate, V., & Vanderver, V. (1968). Factors underlying improvement in serial reversal learning. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 22, 85–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Martin, T. I., Zentall, T. R., & Lawrence, L. (2006). Simple discrimination reversals in the domestic horse (Equus caballus). Applied Animal Behavior Science, 101, 328–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McMillan, N., & Roberts, W. A. (2012). Pigeons make errors as a result of interval timing in a visual, but not a visual-spatial, midsession reversal task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 38, 440–445.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Ploog, B. O., & Williams, B. A. (2010). Serial discrimination learning in pigeons as a function of intertrial interval and delay of reinforcement. Learning & Behavior, 38, 96–102. doi:10.3758/LB.38.1.96 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Randall, C. K., & Zentall, T. R. (1997). Win-stay/lose–shift and win–shift/lose–stay learning by pigeons in the absence of overt response mediation. Behavioural Processes, 41, 227–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rayburn-Reeves, R. M., Laude, J. R., & Zentall, T. R. (2013a). Pigeons show near-optimal win-stay/lose-shift performance on a simultaneous-discrimination, midsession reversal task with short intertrial intervals. Behavioural Processes, 92, 65–70.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rayburn-Reeves, R. M., Molet, M., & Zentall, T. R. (2011). Simultaneous discrimination reversal learning in pigeons and humans: Anticipatory and perseverative errors. Learning & Behavior, 39, 125–137. doi:10.3758/s13420-010-0011-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rayburn-Reeves, R. M., Stagner, J. P., Kirk, C. R., & Zentall, T. R. (2013b). Reversal learning in rats (Rattus norvegicus) and pigeons (Columba livia): Qualitative differences in behavioral flexibility. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 127, 202–211. doi:10.1037/a0026311 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Reid, I. C., & Morris, R. G. M. (1992). Smells are no surer: Rapid improvement in olfactory discrimination is not due to the acquisition of a learning set. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 247, 137–143.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Shettleworth, S. J. (1998). Cognition, evolution, and behavior. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Stagner, J. P., Michler, D. M., Rayburn-Reeves, R. M., Laude, J. R., & Zentall, T. R. (2013). Midsession reversal learning: Why do pigeons anticipate and perseverate? Learning & Behavior, 41, 54–60. doi:10.3758/s13420-012-0077-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Warren, J. M. (1966). Reversal learning and the formation of learning sets by cats and rhesus monkeys. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 61, 421–428.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Williams, B. A. (1972). Probability learning as a function of momentary reinforcement probability. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 17, 363–368.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer R. Laude
    • 1
  • Jessica P. Stagner
    • 1
  • Rebecca Rayburn-Reeves
    • 2
  • Thomas R. Zentall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of North CarolinaWilmingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations