The effects of varying the trace interval, cs duration, and inter-reinforcement interval on key pecking in the pigeon

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Peter D. Balsam (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Aaron J. Brownstein

Abstract: When the illumination of a response key is followed by grain presentation, pigeons come to peck at the lighted key. Stimulus-reinforcer relationships in this procedure have been shown to exert a strong influence on the development and maintenance of responding. The control exerted by stimulus-reinforcer relationships was investigated by exposing groups of pigeons to procedures that differed according to the duration of the various intervals defined by the stimulus changes in this procedure. In the first phase of the experiment, variations in the time from keylight offset to grain onset produced an inverse relationship between several measures of the tendency to respond and the duration of the trace interval. The tendency to respond decreased as the duration of the key illumination was increased and the tendency to respond decreased as the interreinforcement interval was shortened. The effects of these three manipulations were summarized by an inverse relationship between the tendency to respond and a variable A. This variable is formed by dividing the duration of the interstimulus interval by the duration of the interreinforcement interval and multiplying this quantity by the quotient produced by dividing the duration of the interstimulus interval by the CS duration. The within-CS response patterns indicated that subjects tended to respond soon after CS onset or not at all. Those subjects that did not respond much during the first phase of the experiment were exposed to a second procedure. The results of the second phase replicated the findings of the earlier portion of the experiment and, additionally, demonstrated that the transfer from Phase I to Phase II was related to the Phase I A. Predictions based on recently proposed contingency models of conditioning were not entirely consistent with the results of both phases of the experiment. A model based solely on temporal parameters was developed and the predictions based on this model were shown to be in accord with the results of the experiment.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1975
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Pigeons $x Behavior

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