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Categorization of Multidimensional Stimuli by Pigeons

By Mark E Berg and Randolph C Grace


Six pigeons responded in a visual category learning task in which the stimuli were dimensionally separable Gabor patches that varied in frequency and orientation. We compared performance in two conditions which varied in terms of whether accurate performance required that responding be controlled jointly by frequency and orientation, or selectively by frequency. Results showed that pigeons learned both category tasks, with average overall accuracies of 85.5% and 82% in the joint and selective control conditions, respectively. Although perfect performance was possible, responding for all pigeons fell short of optimality. Model comparison analyses showed that the General Linear Classifier (GLC; Ashby, 1992) provided a better account of responding in the joint control condition than unidimensional models, but a unidimensional model fitted better for the condition that required selective control by frequency. Our results show that pigeons' responding in a visual categorization task can be controlled jointly or selectively by stimulus dimensions, depending on reinforcement contingencies. However, analysis of residuals confirmed that systematic deviations of GLC predictions from the obtained data were present in both conditions, suggesting that an alternative account of responding in multidimensional category learning tasks may be necessary

Topics: Research Articles
Publisher: Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Inc
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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