A Comparison Of Relative Ease of Size Discrimination And Speed Discrimination In Pigeons
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Our earlier data suggested that pigeons learn size discrimination (e.g., which object is smaller or larger) faster than they learn speed discrimination (e.g., which object is faster or slower). However, this earlier conclusion was based on comparing experiments at different institutions using different operant chambers, different programming languages, different operating systems controlling the operant chamber hardware, and different reinforcers. The goal of this study was to use a within-subject comparison to explore this difference in the speed of discrimination learning. In a size discrimination task, the birds were trained to select either a smaller (or a larger) out of the two simultaneously presented. In a speed discrimination task, they were trained to select a slower (or a faster) out of the two vertically moving objects. All birds had to perform each of the tasks for 20 consecutive sessions, and the order in which the tasks were presented was randomized across birds. Preliminary results suggest that pigeons indeed learn size discrimination faster than speed discrimination, possibly because the discrimination of the relative speed requires attending to the relational cues while sizes can be easily memorized.
Olga F. Lazareva (Mentor)