Avian Visual Cognition

Cheng & Spetch

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I. The Transformational Approach

The transformational approach is one powerful method for finding out what an animal has learned in a task (Cheng, 1995; Cheng & Spetch, 1998). This approach is illustrated in a number of sections of this chapter. The animal is first trained to find one location in one stimulus setup. After learning, occasional unrewarded tests are given in which the setup might be transformed in various ways (e.g., a landmark might be shifted, rotated, removed, or the array might be expanded). How the animal performs under these transformations tells us a great deal about what it has learned. Below is an example of this approach. Below is an example of this approach.

Training Phase

Training Phase: The animal is trained to find a reward between two differently colored landmarks . The location of the reward is indicated by the black disk in the photo


Transformation Test Phase

Transformation Test: After it has learned the above task, where will it search when the array is rotated by a small amount? Performance on this test is compared to results of similarly unrewarded control tests in which the training setup is presented. The results of this type of test can tell us something about the directional cues that an animal uses.


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