Uncertainty in pigeons Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Pigeons classified a display of illuminated pixels on a touchscreen as sparse or dense. Correct responses were reinforced with six food pellets; incorrect responses were unreinforced. On some trials an uncertain response option was available. Pecking it was always reinforced with an intermediate number of pellets. Like monkeys and people in related experiments, the birds chose the uncertain response most often when the stimulus presented was difficult to classify correctly, but in other respects their behavior was not functionally similar to human behavior based on conscious uncertainty or to the behavior of monkeys in comparable experiments. Our data were well described by a signal detection model that assumed that the birds were maximizing perceived reward in a consistent way across all the experimental conditions.

publication date

  • September 2003