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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The International Journal of Comparative Psychology is sponsored by the International Society for Comparative Psychology. It is a peer-reviewed open-access digital journal that publishes studies on the evolution and development of behavior in all animal species. It accepts research articles and reviews, letters and audiovisual submissions.

Volume 2, Issue 2, 1988


The Role of Specific Retinal Cell Types in Visual Following Responses in Chicks (Gallus Gallus Domesticus)

Deficits in visually guided behavior, particularly the optomotor response, are found to follow treatment of the chicken retina with a range of toxic agonists of glutamate and aspartate receptors. These agonists include kainic acid, quisquaUc acid, homocysteic acid and N-methyl D-aspartatic acid, given either alone or in combination with chemicals which antagonise some aspects of their neurotoxic actions and so cause cell loss ofvarious degress ofspecificity. Glutamate itself, when given at a high dose, causes non-specific lesions of the retina but has less effect on the optomotor response than kainate, which causes loss of a specific class of cells. Using these retinotoxins as tools of varying specificity, it is deduced that loss of the optomotor response, together with other visual impairments, is due to loss of amacrine cells and/or displaced ganghon cells. The paper includes discussion of the cellular and neurochemical organisation of the retina, retinal projections involved in the optokinetic response, as well as a summary of the modes of action of the toxins used.

Pattern Recognition Invariance in Pigeons (Columbia Livia): Outline, Color and Contrast

Pigeons that had extensive training with an oddity-frona-sample discrimination procedure using visual patterns, and that could transfer their performance to novel patterns, were tested for three kinds of pattern recognition invariance. In one invariance experiment the sample stimuli were silhouette shapes and the comparison stimuli were outline figures. In another experiment the samples were white shapes on a dark background whereas the comparisons were black shapes on a bright background. In a third experiment the sample and comparison shapes were of different color. All the shapes used for invariance testing were novel to the pigeons. Performance during the tests was above 90% correct except in the case of the reversed contrast experiment, where it reached only 77/6; dazzling and/or attention problems may have been a disturbing factor. Even in this condition, however, significant transfer was obtained. Generally the pigeons showed that they are capable of invariant shape recognition under all three conditions. Since all critical tests involved shapes that were novel to the subjects the results also confirmed that pigeons can conceptualize a relational oddity/ identity rule.

Behavioral Adjustments of Cuckoo Nestlings (Cuculus Canorus) to Foster Parents

The behavior and adjustments of a cuckoo nestling developing in a redstart nest were studied. High acoustic sensitivity was found in the range of non-species-typical components of the sonic feeding complex of the host species. The general tendency of avian hearing development, accelerated formation of low-frequency range, also plays an important role in the biology of the parasite species. A constantly increased level of feeding motivation along with the high acoustic sensitivity are basic for the 100% responsiveness to arrivals of adults with food. Vocalization matching, that is, a coincidence of the frequency band limits and of the intensity of vocalization of a cuckoo chick and redstart brood ensures the equal frequency of feedings. The coincidence of sequence and timing of the periods of nest life of cuckoo and redstart young that were determined with respect to the change of the modality stimulating feeding behavior increases the feeding competition abilities of a cuckoo nestling in the case of forced coexistence with the young of the host species.

Use of Visual and Tactual Cues in Learning of Simultaneous Shape Discriminations by Albino and Pigmented Rats (Rattus Norvegicus)

Albino Wistar, pigmented DA and crossbred (F1) rats were compared in learning of 4 versions of a simultaneous circle-triangle discrimination. On tasks with 3 dimensional shapes, either with both visual and tactual cues available, or without the tactual cues, albino rats performed as well as the pigmented rats. On tasks with reduction of visual cues, (one task with 2 dimensional cues, the other with tactual cues, and reduced 3 dimensional visual cues), the albino group's performance was significantly inferior to that of the pigmented rats. The two types of pigmented rats did not differ in learning on any task.

Influence of Evolutionary Biology in the Early Development of Experimental Psychology In Argentina (1891-1930)

Argentina's first laboratory of experimental psychology was founded in 1891 by the educational psychologist Victor Mercante. Other laboratories were then opened in several universities during the following forty years, giving rise to a considerable development of experimental psychology. The emphasis on experimentation was a common feature of psychology in many other countries, including some Latin American ones. However, Argentine psychology differed from that of other Spanish-speaking countries in the relatively important influence of evolutionary biology on the thinking of several of the most influential psychologists, including Jose Ingenieros, Horacio G. Pinero, Victor Mercante, and Rodolfo Senet, whose ideas and work are described in this paper.