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learning and behaviour ch 11

Course Code
PSYC 2210
Anthony Nield

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Comparative Cognition
Chapter 11
Comparative cognition or animal cognition
Compare humans and other species to find differences and similarities
What makes humans unique?
How to animals’ abilities compare to those of people?
Distinguishing between short and long term memories
Short Term Memory, or working memory
Limited capacity
Terminology switched to working memory
Ex. If you are calculating numbers 1+1=2, 2+2=3, and so on, you must always
remember the last number
Delayed Matching to sample
Matching to sample –
Experiment: 3 circles, the one in the middle is lit either red or green
Sample stimulus: The colour that lights up is the sample
Comparison stimulus: the left and right keys are comparisons
Pigeons and other animals had no problem matching the sample and comparison
Delayed matching to sample-
Experiment 2: sample is lit and then goes off, after some time the comparison
keys go on and the animal must remember and peck at the correct one
The delay can tell us how long a species can retain memory in their short term
memory, it varies per species (monkeys were much better than pigeons)
There are stimuli that can interfere with memory
In humans there are to types of interference and have also been found with
animals in delayed matching to sample (DMTS)
Retroactive- new material interferes with the memory of some previously
learned material
Proactive- when previously learned material impairs your ability to learn
something new
Retroactive in DMTS- during delay present the subject with a whole bunch of
Proactive in DMTS- if the task is changed so subjects have to match the opposite,
they will be impaired because of what they learned in previous trials (match to the
Pigeons learned to match not to sameness but, if red then choose red, if green
then choose green; therefore when switched to yellow and blue, they learned
quickly but didn’t transfer right away as they would if they learned sameness
Conditional discrimination- procedure where the general rule of
sameness cannot be applied. Ex. If red, then choose horizontal stripe
Retrospective coding- looking backwards and remembering what has
already happened
Prospective coding- looking forward and remembering what response should
be made
Do animals use retrospective or prospective coding?
An experiment by Roitblat suggested that they use prospective coding
Red- horizontal, blue- vertical, orange- almost vertical

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If they were using retrospective, they would make some mistakes with red vs.
orange since they are similar and if they were using prospective they would make
more errors between vertical and almost vertical.
Other experiments have found that pigeons use both types of coding depending
on the type of task- same thing for monkeys
The Radial- Arm Maze
DMTS are not found in nature, but a task where they research for food is
So an eight arm maze is used, rat is placed in the center and given a chance to
explore, each arm has a cup of food, but once the rat takes it there is no more left
there so he should not return to the same one twice
They should either remember where they have been or where they have not yet
Rats did very well on the task, even when it was 17 arms
Rats do not use scent to guide them nor do they go clockwise around the maze,
they use landmarks in the room to guide them
Humans can recall about 7 items at once, rat’s ability to remember 17 arms is
Beatty and Shavalia allowed rats to go to 4 arms, removed them for 4 hours
and placed them back in, the rats were able to recall which ones they have
yet to visit
Do rats use prospective or retrospective memory?
Cook, Brown and Riley
Rats used retrospective at the beginning and prospective in the end
Keeps information active in short term memory and promotes the transfer of
information into long term memory
Humans equate rehearsal to language, but there is evidence that animals
rehearse too
Researches have tried to show (1) animals can choose to rehearse just as they
can choose to perform a behaviour, (2) rehearsal can be disrupted by distracting
the animal
(Grant) Maintenance rehearsal- keep information in short-term memory
Associative rehearsal-promotes tranfer long term memory
Evidence for maintaining rehearsal
Directed forgetting- on some trials it is important to remember and on others it
a forget or remember cue are given to tell the subject whether or not it is
necessary to rehearse
Maki and Hegvik tested pigeons and found proof for maintaining rehearsal
Evidence for Associative rehearsal
Wagner, Rudy and Whitlow experimented with rabbits, they found that if they
presented them with surprising PTE (postrial episode) they took longer to
classically condition
Long-term Memory or Reference Memory
Reference memory- because you must pull information out of your long term
Larger storage capacity
Vaughan and Greene
Study with pigeons , showed slide that were positive or negative (tossed a
coin to determine which one to show)
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