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Developmental Changes in Responsiveness in the Great Tit (Parus Major)

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[Experiment I was carried out to test the hypothesis that the capacity to refrain from responding when reinforcement is withdrawn (behaviour dependent on internal inhibition) is weak in very young birds, develops as a result of age and also as a result of variety of experience during the juvenile stage and later weakens slightly. Two groups of birds were given the task of differentiating between a dish containing food and covered with a white lid and an empty dish covered with a black lid. All were wild birds, but Group I were taken as nestlings, reared by hand and kept indoors. Group II were taken as juveniles or as adults, tested indoors and then released. They were tested at ages ranging from 4½ weeks onwards. The results as they stand are consistent with the hypothesis stated, but some difficulties of interpretation are discussed. In Experiment II an attempt was made to measure changes in level of activity or positive responsiveness in a single brood of hand-reared great tits during a period of time comparable with Experiment I. In two experiments where (1) a previously reinforced and (2) a completely unfamiliar object was introduced into the birds' cages for a limited period of time, the length of time spent by birds pecking and pulling at this object appeared to increase until about 12-15 weeks after fledging, and later decreased again. In the discussion the relation between results from Experiments I and II are considered: it is suggested that changes observed in internal inhibition and positive responsiveness may in fact be changes in different aspects of excitability. This would suggest that excitability increases up to a certain age, and then falls off again., Experiment I was carried out to test the hypothesis that the capacity to refrain from responding when reinforcement is withdrawn (behaviour dependent on internal inhibition) is weak in very young birds, develops as a result of age and also as a result of variety of experience during the juvenile stage and later weakens slightly. Two groups of birds were given the task of differentiating between a dish containing food and covered with a white lid and an empty dish covered with a black lid. All were wild birds, but Group I were taken as nestlings, reared by hand and kept indoors. Group II were taken as juveniles or as adults, tested indoors and then released. They were tested at ages ranging from 4½ weeks onwards. The results as they stand are consistent with the hypothesis stated, but some difficulties of interpretation are discussed. In Experiment II an attempt was made to measure changes in level of activity or positive responsiveness in a single brood of hand-reared great tits during a period of time comparable with Experiment I. In two experiments where (1) a previously reinforced and (2) a completely unfamiliar object was introduced into the birds' cages for a limited period of time, the length of time spent by birds pecking and pulling at this object appeared to increase until about 12-15 weeks after fledging, and later decreased again. In the discussion the relation between results from Experiments I and II are considered: it is suggested that changes observed in internal inhibition and positive responsiveness may in fact be changes in different aspects of excitability. This would suggest that excitability increases up to a certain age, and then falls off again.]

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853960x00241
1960-01-01
2015-03-03

Affiliations: 1: Cambridge Psychological Laboratory

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