Response Stereotypy Without Automaticity In Pigeons

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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 demanded by the task. The present experiment explored whether the functional value of sequence stereotypy was that sequences became automatized, freeing cognitive resources for other activities. Pigeons were exposed to variants of the task requiring four pecks on each key that differed in the degree of task stringency. Concurrent with the sequence task, pigeons were required to process the color of the keys in order to complete successfully either a matching or a conditional discrimination task. The delay between sequence execution and matching or discrimination choice was varied between 0 and 10 sec. Matching and discrimination accuracy were decreasing functions of delay, but the stringency of the concurrent sequence task had no effect on choice accuracy, suggesting that stereotyped sequences were automatized. However, the matching and discrimination tasks produced substantial disruptions of sequence performance, suggesting that stereotyped sequences were not automatized. The data were taken to suggest that response stereotypy need not imply automaticity.

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