Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Rats Respond to Configurations of Stimuli

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Rats Respond to Configurations of Stimuli

Article excerpt

There are many studies on stimulus classes formation in pigeons and rats. They make it clear that both pigeons and rats have an ability to form stimulus classes between stimuli in either two concurrent discriminations (Delius, Ameling, Lea, & Staddon, 1995; Dube, Callahan, & Mcllvane, 1993; Nakagawa, 1978, 1986, 1992a, 1998, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c, 2001) or matching- (or nonmatching)-to-sample discriminations (Aggleton, 1985; Edwards, Jagielo, Zentall, & Hogan, 1982; Lombardi, Fachinelli, & Delius, 1984; Mumby, Pinel, & Wood, 1990; Nakagawa, 1992b, 1993a, 1993b, 1999d, 2000a; Rothblat & Hayes, 1987; Urcuioli, 1977; Urcuioli & Nevin, 1975; Urcuioli, Zentall, Jackson-Smith, & Steirn, 1989, Experiment 3; Vaughan, 1988; Zentall & Hogan, 1974, 1975, 1976; Zentall, Sherburne, Steirn, Randall, Roper, & Urcuioli, 1992; Zentall, Steirn, Sherburne, & Urcujoli, 1991), or same-different discriminations (Cook, Cavoto, & Cavoto, 1995, 1996; Cook, Katz, & Cavoto, 1997; Cook & Wixed, 1997; Edwards, Jagielo, & Zentall, 1983; Fet terman, 1991; Nakagawa, 1993a, 2000b; Santiago & Wright, 1984; Wasserman, Hugart, & Kirkpatrick-Steger, 1995; Wright, Santiago, Sands, Kendrick, & Cook, 1985; Wright, Santiago, Urcuioli, & Sands, 1983; Young & Wasserman, 1997; Young, Wasserman, & Garner, 1997)

Nakagawa (1992a, 1993b, 1999d, 2000b) has asserted that the mechanism of stimulus class formation between the discriminative stimuli in either concurrent, matching- (or nonmatching)-to-sample, or same-different discriminations was the same one, in which stimuli or stimulus configurations that are associated with the same outcome (e.g., food or no food) will come to be classed together (despite their perceptual dissimilarity) and it is these stimulus or configuration associations that mediate the transfer of appropriate responding to a subsequent shift problem. The basic idea of Nakagawa's proposal that a common response mediates concepts of matching and nonmatching, or sameness or difference to subsequent shift problems assumes that the novel stimuli and novel configurations appearing in the transfer tests generate the same mediator (i.e., common response to configurations of stimuli). These proposals are supported by the findings of both Experiment 2 in Nakagawa (1 999d) and Nakagawa (2000a, 2000b). A specif ic question, however, remains. Do rats respond not only to a stimulus itself but also to a configuration of stimuli? This is a very important and fundamental issue in behavior analysis in studying stimulus classes formation in rats. This problem has received far too little experimental attention in concurrent discrimination, matching- (or nonmatching)-to-sample discrimination and same-different discriminations. To demonstrate directly that rats respond to configuration of stimuli, it is necessary to investigate whether or not a framework of stimuli or stimulus configuration affects rats' perception, that is, whether or not rats have illusory perception.

Studies on form perception in animals have indicated both similarities and dissimilarities with form perception in humans. Blough (1982, 1985) has asserted that judgments about letter similarity are alike in pigeons and humans. By contrast, Allan and Blough (1989) have indicated that pigeons and humans respond differently to certain features of forms in visual search tasks.

Although many researchers have been interested in illusory perception by humans and many different geometric illusions have been discovered, there are few reports of illusory effects in animals. Dominguez (1954) showed that monkeys experience a horizontal-vertical illusion in which vertical lines are judged to be longer than horizontal lines of the same length. Dominguez (1954) further indicated that monkeys are likely to see rectangles as being taller than squares. Benhar and Samuel (1982) showed that anubis baboons see a Zollner illusion. …

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