Publication Date

January 1992


Posted with permission from the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.


In the first experiment, 4 pigeons were each presented with a recurring sequence of four key colors followed by the delivery of grain (block clock). Once the rate of pecking had stabilized, three of the colors were replaced, during different series of sessions, by a darkening of the key. The rate of pecking was reduced within those segments of the interval between deliveries of food during which the key was dark; when the key was dark during the final portion of the interval, rates were reduced throughout the entire interval. In the second experiment, 3 new pigeons were exposed to a different sequence of colors, and the final stimulus was replaced in successive conditions by a novel color, a darkened key, and a restoration of the original color. The data indicated that darkening the key had a more severe, more extensive, and more persistent effect than did a mere change in color. These results suggest that it may be fruitful to conceptualize the autoshaping procedure as a special version of the block clock in which pecking is suppressed throughout the greater part of the interval by darkening the key. In the final condition, the same stimulus appeared in each of the last three portions of the interval. The rate of pecking was lower during the last two portions than when distinctive colors were presented, with the peak rate now appearing in the fifth of seven equal temporal components.



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