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J Exp Anal Behav. 1978 Sep;30(2):163-7.

Reaction times of pigeons on a wavelength discrimination task.


After extensive pretraining, three pigeons were exposed in 2-second trials to a random series of 14 light wavelengths, ranging in one nanometer (nm) steps from 575 nanometers to 589 nanometers. Responses to one of the wavelengths, 582 nanometers, were intermittently reinforced. The relative frequency of response approached 1.0 at 582 nanometers, and decreased with progressively higher and lower wavelengths. Reaction times shorter than about 0.2 second occurred with a low frequency that was largely independent of wavelength. Wavelength controlled the frequency of longer reaction times, but did not affect the distribution of these reaction times. Consequently, receiver-operating characteristic curves constructed by using reaction time as a rating measure did not conform to the signal-detection model, in contrast to such conformity when response rate is used in a similar way. The data suggest that stimulus onset as such triggers early response emission with some small probability; the probability of responses with longer latency is controlled by wavelength, but their time of emission is controlled by some independent process.

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