Date of Award:

6-25-2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Amy L Odum

Abstract

The present experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of reinforcer magnitude on resistance to disruption of remembering and response rates. Pigeons were exposed to a variable-interval (VI), delayed-matching-to-sample procedure (DMTS) with two components (rich and lean). Specifically, completion of a VI 20 second (s) multiple schedule resulted in DMTS trials in both components. In a DMTS trial, a choice of one of two comparison stimuli (e.g., blue key) results in reinforcement if the choice matches some property of the sample stimulus presented previously. Sample and comparison stimuli are separated by a delay. Four delays (0.1, 4, 8, and 16 s) were used between the sample and comparison stimuli in the study. The difference between rich and lean components was the length of hopper duration following a correct response. The probability of reinforcement following a correct response in both components was .5. Each pigeon was exposed to 50 sessions of initial baseline and then 30 sessions of baseline between each disruptive condition (extinction, intercomponent interval [ICI] food, lighting the houselight during delays, and prefeeding). Separable aspects of the forgetting functions (initial discriminability and rate of forgetting) were examined by determining accuracy at each delay. During baseline, response rates were higher in the rich component relative to the lean. Accuracy decreased as delay increased in both rich and lean components, and accuracy was consistently higher in the rich relative to the lean component. During disruptive conditions, extinction, ICI food, and prefeeding disrupted response rates, but lighting the houselight during the delays had little effect. During the DMTS portion of the procedure, extinction and prefeeding decreased initial discriminability and lighting the houselight during the delay increased rate of forgetting. Intercomponent food had little effect on accuracy. Accuracy in the rich component was more resistant to disruption relative to the lean component during extinction. These results indicate that certain disruptors do not have the same disruptive effect across response rates and accuracy (e.g., ICI food). These data also suggest that when systematic differences in accuracy between rich and lean components are revealed, performance in the rich component tends to be more resistant to disruption.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on July 31, 2012.

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