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J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2010 Jan;36(1):23-38. doi: 10.1037/a0016326.

Conditional same-different discrimination by pigeons: acquisition and generalization to novel and few-item displays.

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Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


The authors explored whether pigeons can learn to discriminate simultaneously presented arrays of 16 identical (Same) visual items from arrays of 16 nonidentical (Different) visual items, when the correct choice was conditional on the presence of another cue: the color of the background. In one experiment, pigeons rapidly learned this task and, after training with arrays created from a 72-icon set, they exhibited nearly perfect transfer to novel testing arrays. In a second experiment, pigeons' accuracy to 24-, 20-, 12-, and 8-icon arrays during later testing remained as high as accuracy to training arrays; although accuracy declined with 4- and 2-icon arrays, it was still significantly above chance. In both experiments, pigeons' choice reaction time scores nicely complemented their choice accuracy scores. These results suggest that the conditional discrimination procedure is well suited to disclose same-different discrimination in pigeons and to elucidate the interaction between perception and abstraction in conceptual learning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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