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The effect of a fading procedure upon the acquisition of control by an overshadowed auditory feature1

By R. F. Westbrook and C. G. Miles


Pigeons' key-pecking responses were reinforced in the presence of a compound stimulus that consisted of an auditory feature (a tone) and a visual feature (a light) and non-reinforced in the presence of a compound stimulus that was either a noise and a dark key, or noise and a light. In the condition where reinforcement trials differed from non-reinforcement trials on the basis of both auditory and visual features, the tone exerted very little control over responding on test. In the condition where reinforcement differed from non-reinforcement trials solely on the basis of the auditory features, an abrupt and a gradual introduction of the visual feature of the negative stimulus, a light, were compared for their effect upon control in the compounds. The tone acquired strong control in both cases. Evidence indicated that the tone had acquired control in the gradual condition without the occurrence of responses to the negative stimulus. An incidental finding was that when the negative stimulus consisted of a noise and a light, which was introduced abruptly, responding over the light dimension with tone, on test, was peaked at a point other than that light value used as positive and negative during training

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