Title

Divided Attention Performance and the Matching Law

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Learning & Behavior

Volume

34

Issue

3

Publisher

Psychonomic Society

Publication Date

2006

First Page

255

Last Page

261

Abstract

This experiment examined the applicability of the generalized matching law to changes in divided-attention performance produced by variations in relative reinforcement rate. Pigeons were exposed to a delayed matching-to-sample procedure in which compound samples (color + line orientation) and element comparisons (two colors or two line orientations) were used. The relative rate of reinforcement for accurate matches on the two types of comparison trials was varied. Variations in relative accuracy with changes in relative reinforcement were well described by the generalized matching law. We suggest that the bias and sensitivity parameters of the generalized matching law may measure the contributions of sensory activation and stimulus pertinence, respectively, to divided-attention performance. Additional work using similar analyses might contribute to a more general quantitative account of how differential consequences contribute to decision processes involved in the allocation of attention.

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