Visually guided capture of a moving stimulus by the pigeon (Columba livia)

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Although the pigeon is a popular model for studying visual perception, relatively little is known about its perception of motion. Three experiments examined the pigeons' ability to capture a moving stimulus. In Experiment 1, the effect of manipulating stimulus speed and the length of the stimulus was examined using a simple rightward linear motion. This revealed a clear effect of length on capture and speed on errors. Errors were mostly anticipatory and there appeared to be two processes contributing to response locations: anticipatory peck bias and lag time. Using the same birds as Experiment 1, Experiment 2 assessed transfer of tracking and capture to novel linear motions. The birds were able to capture other motion directions, but they displayed a strong rightward peck bias, indicating that they had learned to peck to the right of the stimulus in Experiment 1. Experiment 3 used the same task as Experiment 2 but with naïve birds. These birds did not show the rightward bias in pecking and instead pecked more evenly around the stimulus. The combined results indicate that the pigeon can engage in anticipatory tracking and capture of a moving stimulus, and that motion properties and training experience influence capture.

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