Variation-set structure: Extraction of important segments in pigeon learning

Itay Berger, Dan Grinstein, Yuval Eshed, Dan Shneor, Joseph Terkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The ability to extract reliable segments from the sensory data-stream is necessary for learning and for creating a reliable representation of the environment. Here we focused on segmentation in visual learning associated with foraging. Fifty-one pigeons (Columba livia) were trained to recognize two food-predicting signals, one presented against fixed background elements and the other against varying backgrounds. The pigeons were divided into two groups: 32 pigeons were trained with short intervals of 3−5 min between sessions and 19 with long intervals of 60 min between sessions. When tested on the signal with a plain background, 24 pigeons trained with the short time intervals preferred the signal presented against a varying background during training and eight preferred the signal presented against a fixed background during training. Nine pigeons trained with the long intervals preferred the signal presented against a varying background during training and ten the signal presented against a fixed background during training. Our findings indicate that pigeons possess an ability to use variation-set structure to segment visual data. To date, the effect of variation-set structure has been demonstrated only in the context of human language acquisition. Our current findings suggest that variation sets structure may be linked to other learning abilities too.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104420
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume189
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Language
  • Learning
  • Segmentation
  • Variation-set

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