Response Stereotypy Without Automaticity: Not Quite Involuntary Attention In The Pigeon

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Learning And Motivation


Previous research has shown that when pigeons are required to peck each of two keys four times in any order for reinforcement, stereotyped response sequences develop, though they are not required by the task. However, despite this stereotypy, sequences are not automatized. They require sufficient attention that sequence performance is disrupted by a concurrent, delayed matching-to-sample task. In the present experiments, pigeons were required to execute response sequences and delayed matching-to-sample concurrently. Experiment 1 showed that the matching task disrupts sequence performance even when the matching sample stimuli do not have to be processed concurrently with sequence execution. The presence of sample stimuli during sequence execution seems to command attention even if the sample stimuli are also available for processing when sequences are not being executed. Experiment 2 used the directed forgetting technique to show that pigeons do seem able to ignore sample stimuli if they are given information that tells them they will not be required to remember those stimuli later. Together, the experiments suggest attentional mechanisms in the pigeon that are not quite involuntary.

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