Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




J. Grayson Osborne


The purpose of this study was to develop behavior by the pigeon illustrative of S+ and S- rules and to examine if behavior consistent with a concept rule interpretation developed. In order to examine this possibility six groups of pigeons (N=31) were provided different histories of autoshaping. Histories involved the identity of the color of the lighted center key and one side key of three horizontally mounted pigeon keys. Center key onset was followed three seconds later by onset of either outer key. Outer key onset was followed six seconds later by food presentation (explicitly paired) or 45 seconds later, during the inter-trial interval (explicitly unpaired). The foregoing reinforcement conditions were factored into two stimulus conditions, one where the center and side keys were lit by the same hue (identity) and one where the center and side key were lit by different hues (nonidentity). Two groups received identity stimulus sequences with explicitly unpaired food presentation. Two groups were exposed to nonidentity stimulus sequences with explicitly unpaired food presentation. One group received sessions combining exposure to both the explicitly paired identity and explicitly unpaired nonidentity trials. One group received no pretraining. Following pretraining, all birds were placed in a simultaneous matching-to-sample task utilizing the same hues used during pretraining. After reaching criterion on matching-to-sample, on a random ratio 3 schedule of reinforcement, birds were exposed to transfer tests, with a novel hue, to assess for S+ rules, S- rules, and a concept rule. The results indicated that there were no significant differences among groups in terms of their acquisition of matching-to-sample or in terms of their performance on transfer tests. All birds' responding during transfer conditions provided evidence of S+ rules, but neither demonstration of S- rules nor concept rule performance was evidenced. During autoshaping, birds in the identity, explicitly paired groups responded primarily to the center key, suggesting that the stimulus on the outer key was not a salient stimulus for the identity discrimination. For birds in the nonidentity, explicitly unpaired groups neither the center nor outer key controlled responding. For the group combining identity, explicitly paired and nonidentity, explicitly unpaired trials, the birds failed to form a discrimination between types of trials.



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