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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Operant and Pavlovian contributions to the ontogeny of pecking in ring doves.

This series of experiments analyzes the role of learning in the development of pecking in ring dove squab. Experiment 1 showed that there is a high probability that parents will feed squab after a period of separation (Experiment 1). Such feedings may have been essential for producing the previous observation (Graf, Balsam, & Silver, 1985) that pecking develops normally if squab which have been separated from their parents are given a daily 20-min interaction with seed followed by an immediate return to their parents. Experiment 2 showed that exposure to seed followed by experimenter-provided feedings were sufficient for inducing adult pecking levels. Experiment 3 showed that general experience with conspecifics was not necessary for the development of pecking and that maturation alone could not account for the pecking observed in previous experiments. Experiment 4 showed that Pavlovian contingencies consisting of visual exposure to seed followed by feeding was sufficient to induce high levels of pecking. There did not appear to be an additional contribution of an operant contingency present when squab were allowed to both see and peck at seed prior to feedings in Experiment 5. However, squab must actually be given experience in handling and ingesting seeds before adult levels of pecking can be obtained. These results are discussed in terms of the developmental pathways whereby experience leads to adult behavior.[1]


  1. Operant and Pavlovian contributions to the ontogeny of pecking in ring doves. Balsam, P.D., Graf, J.S., Silver, R. Developmental psychobiology. (1992) [Pubmed]
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