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Behav Processes. 2013 Feb;93:140-7. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.11.013. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Visual discrimination learning with an iPad-equipped apparatus.

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Department of Psychology, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA.


Visual discrimination tasks are commonly used to assess visual learning and memory in non-human animals. The current experiments explored the suitability of an iPad (Apple, Cupertino, California), as a low-cost alternative touchscreen for visual discrimination tasks. In Experiment 1, rats were trained with patterned black-and-white stimuli in a successive non-match to sample procedure. Rats successfully interacted with the iPad but failed to learn to withhold responding on trials in which the sample matched the comparison. Experiment 2 used the same patterned stimuli, but the procedure was simplified to a successive discrimination procedure and we explored the use of procedures known to facilitate discrimination learning. Rats that received training with differential outcomes and a differential reinforcement of other behavior schedule successfully acquired the task. In Experiment 3, the same rats were tested in a simultaneous discrimination task and we explored the use of a correction and non-correction method during acquisition. Rats that failed to learn the discrimination in the previous experiment, improved while trained with the correction method. These experiments support the use of the iPad in visual discrimination tasks and inform future studies investigating learning and memory within a touchscreen-equipped (iPad or other) apparatus.

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