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Autoshaping with common and distinctive stimulus elements, compact and dispersed arrays1

By Sally E. Sperling and Mark E. Perkins

Abstract

Four groups of pigeons were trained with a standard autoshaping procedure in which a brief fixed-duration interval always followed by a grain delivery alternated with a longer variable-duration interval never associated with grain delivery. One of two stimuli was always presented during each interval. One of them contained three black dots and a black star on a green background; the other contained four black dots on a green background. The four elements of each stimulus were arranged in a more compact array for two groups and in a more dispersed array for the other two groups. Which of the two stimuli preceded grain delivery was counterbalanced within each pair of groups. The speed of occurrence of the first autoshaped peck was not affected by whether the stimulus containing the distinctive star element preceded grain delivery, but autoshaping was faster when the stimulus arrays were compact than when they were dispersed. During 560 response-independent training trials that followed the first autoshaped peck, this pattern reversed; both discriminative control over responding and the relative frequency of pecking the stimulus that preceded grain delivery were greater for the two groups where this stimulus contained the discriminative element than for the two groups where it contained only common elements. During subsequent testing with stimuli containing only a single element each, the distinctive feature was responded to proportionately more often by the two groups for which it had been an element of the stimulus preceding grain delivery than by the two groups for which it had been an element of the stimulus complex that never was associated with grain delivery. These data add further support to the hypothesis that the initial occurrence of autoshaped responding and its subsequent maintenance are not affected by the same variables. They also suggest that automaintenance is as sensitive as response-dependent training to the presence or absence of a distinctive stimulus element among several common elements and that this sensitivity appears to be independent of the specific method used for presenting the stimuli during automaintenance

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OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:1332867
Provided by: PubMed Central
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