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October 2021

Pigeons' memory for empty time intervals marked by visual or auditory stimuli

Author(s): Ross, L., Coppa, R., Coyle, J.

Journal/Book: Anim Learn Behav. 1999; 27: 1710 Fortview Rd, Austin, TX 78704, USA. Psychonomic Soc Inc. 190-205.

Abstract: Experiment 1, pigeons were trained to discriminate the duration (2 or 8 sec) of an empty interval separated by two 1325-Hz tone markers by responding to red and green comparison stimuli. During delay testing, a choose-short bias occurred at 1 sec, but a robust choose-long bias occurred at 9 sec. Responding in the absence of tone markers indicated that the pigeons were attending to the markers and not simply timing the total trial duration The birds were then trained to match short (2-sec) or long (8-sec) empty intervals marked by light to blue/yellow comparisons. For both visual and auditory markers, delay testing produced a choose-short bias at 1 sec and a choose-long bias at 9 sec. In Experiment 2, the pigeons were shifted from a fixed to variable intertrial intervals (ITI) within sessions. On trials with tone markers, the duration of both the empty interval and the preceding ITI affected choice responding. On trials with light markers, only the duration of the empty interval influenced choice responding. Subsequent delay testing in the context of variable ITIs replicated the memory biases previously obtained. In Experiment 3, performance was assessed at various delay intervals on trials in which either the first or the second marker was omitted. The data from these omission-tests indicated that the first marker initiated timing but that the second marker sometimes initiated the timing of a new interval. Explanations of these effects in terms of the internal clock model of timing me discussed, and a simple quantitative model of the delay interval data is tested.

Note: Article Santi A, Wilfrid Laurier Univ, Dept Psychol, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, CANADA


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