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Title: Attention in the pigeon
Author: Williams, Natalie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 1571
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2012
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Using methodology devised by Pearce, Esber, George and Haselgrove (2008), the role of attention in discrimination learning in pigeons was investigated. In Chapter 1 a review of literature revealed several unanswered questions Experiments 1 and 2 explored whether attention is paid to entire dimensions or to individual stimuli. In a test, pigeons learnt a discrimination based upon previously relevant stimuli more rapidly than they did a discrimination based on previously irrelevant stimuli. This was evident when discriminations were based on colours that were close or far apart on the spectrum. Experiment 3 attempted to detect latent inhibition in pigeons. No effect was observed; findings were attributed to the amount of attention paid to a stimulus being determined by the degree of responding to it. In Experiment 4 compounds in which components were superimposed on the other eliminated the effects seen in Experiment 3. Experiment 5 explored whether more attention is paid to reliable or unreliable predictors of outcome. No evidence was found of greater attention paid to partially-reinforced stimuli. Experiment 6 found pigeons learnt more rapidly about previously reinforced stimuli when accompanied by stimuli with low associative strength than with stimuli with high associative strength. Experiment 7 explored whether attention increased to previously non-reinforced stimuli from a discrimination. No evidence was found. Experiment 8 asked the same question but paired previously non-reinforced and previously irrelevant stimuli during Stage 2. The discrimination based upon non-reinforced stimuli was learnt more rapidly than the discrimination based upon irrelevant stimuli. From the findings presented it seems attentional changes were masked by the amount of time a pigeon spent pecking at a stimulus. The exception was the final experiment. It seems attentional changes as envisaged by Mackintosh (1975a) may occur, but are only apparent when the effect of the amount of pecking is reduced.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology