Animal learning & behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 330–338 | Cite as

Effects of signaled retention intervals on pigeon short-term memory

  • Edward A. Wasserman
  • James Grosch
  • John A. Nevin


In three delayed matching-to-sample experiments, pigeons were given distinctive stimuli that were either correlated or uncorrelated with the scheduled retention intervals. Experiment 1 employed a single-key, go/no-go matching procedure with colors as the sample and test stimuli; lines of differing orientations signaled short or long delays for one group, whereas the lines and the delays were uncorrelated for the other group. The function relating discriminative test performance to delay length was steeper in the correlated group than in the uncorrelated group. In addition, the line orientation stimuli controlled differential rates of sample responding in the correlated group, but not in the uncorrelated group. In Experiment 2, subjects extensively trained with correlated line orientations were exposed to reversed cues on probe trials. Miscuing decreased discriminative test responding at the short delay, but enhanced it at the long delay. As in the correlated group of the first experiment, rates of sample keypecking were higher in the presence of the “short” time tag than in the presence of the ”long” time tag. Experiment 3 used a three-key choice-matching procedure and a within-subjects design, and equated reinforcement rate at the short and long delays. When auditory stimuli were correlated with delay length, the function relating choice accuracy to delay was steeper than when the stimuli and the delays were uncorrelated. The consistent effects of signaled retention intervals on memory performance may be understood in terms of differential attention to the sample stimuli.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward A. Wasserman
    • 1
  • James Grosch
    • 2
  • John A. Nevin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IowaIowa City
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New HampshireDurham

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