Pigeons' wait-time responses to transitions in interfood-interval duration: Another look at cyclic schedule performance.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Recent developments reveal that animals can rapidly learn about intervals of time. We studied the nature of this fast-acting process in two experiments. In Experiment 1 pigeons were exposed to a modified fixed-time schedule, in which the time between food rewards (interfood interval) changed at an unpredictable point in each session, either decreasing from 15 to 5 s (step-down) or increasing from 15 to 45 s (step-up). The birds were able to track under both conditions by producing postreinforcement wait times proportional to the preceding interfood-interval duration. However, the time course of responding differed: Tracking was apparently more gradual in the step-up condition. Experiment 2 studied the effect of having both kinds of transitions within the same session by exposing pigeons to a repeating (cyclic) sequence of the interfood-interval values used in Experiment 1. Pigeons detected changes in the input sequence of interfood intervals, but only for a few sessions-discrimination worsened with further training. The dynamic effects we observed do not support a linear waiting process of time discrimination, but instead point to a timing mechanism based on the frequency and recency of prior interfood intervals and not the preceding interfood interval alone.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Higa, JJ; Thaw, JM; Staddon, JE

Published Date

  • May 1993

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 59 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 529 - 541

PubMed ID

  • 16812693

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC1322135

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-3711

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-5002

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1901/jeab.1993.59-529


  • eng