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J Exp Anal Behav. 2003 Jan;79(1):21-35.

A procedure for generating differential "sample" responding without different exteroceptive stimuli.

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  • 1Purdue University, USA.


Sidman (1994, 2000) suggested that responses as well as stimuli can join equivalence classes, a hypothesis difficult to test because differential responding typically requires different stimuli. The present experiments describe a procedure with pigeons that avoids this potential confounding effect. In Experiment 1, spacing two responses 3 s apart (a differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate [DRL] schedule) to a white stimulus on some trials produced food or the comparison stimuli in a matching task, whereas pecking 10 or more times with no temporal restrictions (a fixed-ratio [FR] schedule) produced the same effect on other trials. Completing the alternative (unscheduled) requirement terminated the white stimulus and repeated the trial. Following such errors, pigeons learned to switch to the alternative response pattern on the repeat trials. In addition, the correct response pattern functioned as a conditional cue for comparison choice. In Experiment 2, mixed DRL-FR training was preceded by two-sample/two-alternative matching-to-sample with DRL and FR sample-response requirements. In a subsequent transfer test in which the correct response pattern to white served as the sample, pigeons preferentially chose the comparison previously reinforced following that pattern in the baseline task. This "unsignaled response" procedure may be useful for assessing whether differential responses can be members of acquired equivalence classes.

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