Spatial context learning in pigeons (Columba livia).

Academic Article


  • In a seminal paper in the cognitive sciences, Chun and Jiang (1998) described the contextual cueing paradigm in which they used artificial stimuli and showed that people became faster to locate a target when the background predicted the location of a target compared to when it did not. Here we examined contextual cueing in pigeons for the first time using artificial stimuli and procedures similar to those of Chun and Jiang. In the first test, we had pigeons search for a target among a display of seven distractors; during one condition, the position of the distractors predicted the location of the target, and in the second condition, there was no relationship between the two. In a second test, we presented the pigeons with the predictive displays from Test 1 and a second set of displays that also predicted the location of a target to see if learning about one set of predictive backgrounds disrupted learning about a second set. The pigeons were quick to acquire context-based knowledge and retain that information when faced with additional contexts. The results suggest that contextual cueing can occur for a variety of stimuli in nonhuman animals and that it may be a common mechanism for processing visual information across a wide variety of species.
  • Authors

  • Gibson, Brett
  • Leber, Andrew B
  • Mehlman, Max L
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2015
  • Keywords

  • Animals
  • Attention
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Columbidae
  • Cues
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Spatial Learning
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26167773
  • Start Page

  • 336
  • End Page

  • 342
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 4