Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #201
Fresh Out of the Box: Ecological Considerations in Conditioning Experiments With Pigeons
Sunday, May 28, 2006
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Rachelle L. Yankelevitz (University of Florida)
Discussant: William D. Timberlake (Indiana University)
Abstract: Much has been discovered about the behavior of pigeons in operant labs over the last century, but as students of learning we sometimes overlook the “factory settings” of our subjects. How does the natural history of the pigeon interact with our experimental procedures? All manipulations act on a preexisting repertoire, and, as researchers, strengthening our abilities to behave with respect to this repertoire can only increase the power of our independent variables. Yankelevitz reviews the anatomy and physiology of pigeon sensory systems including color vision, olfaction, and visual and auditory acuity. Defulio and Hackenberg examine the features of drinking and present data on pigeons responding for water reinforcers in a token reinforcement context. Pinkston and Branch describe the locomotion of the pigeon and present data on locomotion with respect to feeding.
Making Sense of Pigeon Sensory Systems.
RACHELLE L. YANKELEVITZ (University of Florida)
Abstract: Experimental methodologies must make certain assumptions about the organism being studied. Among them are assumptions about perceptual capabilities with relation to the testing stimuli. This presentation is a brief survey of the literature on pigeon anatomy and physiology and its implications for basic behavioral research. Data are reviewed from psychophysical and operant procedures assessing the function of pigeon sensory systems. Topics emphasized include visual acuity, color perception, and olfactory and auditory discrimination. The talk addresses how the strengths and limitations of pigeon sensory systems influence our interpretations of our data and guide the questions about learning we can answer using pigeon subjects.
You Can Lead a Pigeon to Water AND Make Him Drink: Some Biological and Methodological Considerations in Using Water Reinforcers With Pigeons.
ANTHONY DEFULIO (University of Florida), Timothy D. Hackenberg (University of Florida)
Abstract: Pigeons are among the most commonly used subjects in behavioral research. The overwhelming majority of these experiments involve the reinforcement of subjects’ behavior through food presentation. An alternative that is not frequently explored is to reinforce pigeon’s behavior with water. Researchers may wish to use water delivery as a reinforcer for a variety of reasons. First, use of water as a reinforcer can serve as a convenient step for the assessment of the generality of behavioral relations. Perhaps more importantly, the use of water, either in isolation or concurrently with food, can open the door to kinds of question asking that is not possible with food alone. Topics such as conditioned reinforcement and choice are especially rife with opportunities for the use of water as a reinforcer with pigeon subjects. This presentation will cover many of the methodological and procedural issues that arise when pursuing a research program involving the use of water as a reinforcer. Issues concerning the delivery system and the establishing operations will receive special attention. Some empirical data related to these issues will also be presented.
Walk This Way: Recent Research on the Spontaneous Activity of Pigeons.
JONATHAN W. PINKSTON (University of Kansas), Marc N. Branch (University of Florida)
Abstract: Relatively little direct analysis on spontaneous locomotion and activity in birds exists, despite the importance of these measures for some theories, especially theories of motivation. The lack of measurement of locomotion is interesting given its necessary involvement in operant behavior, for example, it is generally required as the approach to operanda or reinforcing stimuli. Our lab has begun exploring locomotion of pigeons as a function of a variety of independent manipulations, examining the time course of habituation and alteration of activity by schedules of food delivery. The present report summarizes data from some of these studies, for example, in one experiment pigeons were exposed to a multiple fixed-ratio extinction schedule of food delivery. We found no evidence of spatial retreat or aversion to the signal correlated with extinction; a finding at odds with the available literature. The implications of such findings for current theories of schedule performance will be discussed.



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