Field studies of habituation: I. Effect of reproductive condition, number of trials, and different delay intervals on responses of the white-crowned sparrow

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Studied the nature of habituation to natural signals in a bird's normal environment. In 22 experiments, recorded song was played to 22 mated pairs of wild white-crowned sparrows of the sedentary Nuttalli subspecies (Zonotrichia leucophrys nutalli). Continuous recordings of all the behavior elicited were made. Behaviors were analyzed during playback periods and silent periods following playback. The pattern of responses depends both on whether the female has eggs, nestlings, or fledglings and on the behavior under consideration. These patterns can be understood in the context of the behavior appropriate during each of the different stages of the reproductive cycle. Doubling the number of playback trials did not result in a greater response decrement. Spontaneous recovery did not occur after periods of 0, 60, or 300+ min. Presentation of a novel song resulted in increased levels of response. The problem of operationally distinguishing between learning and habituation is discussed. (32 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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