Field studies of habituation: II. Effect of massed stimulus presentation

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Studied the nature of habituation to massed natural signals in a bird's normal environment. In 2 field experiments, recorded song was played to 27 mated pairs of the sedentary subspecies of the wild white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys nutalli). Continuous recordings of all the behaviors elicited were made. Patterns of response depended on whether the female was brooding eggs, feeding nestlings, or feeding fledglings and on the behavior under consideration. Massing of songs played to pairs did not result in an increased response decrement. Successive tests of the same pairs in different breeding conditions resulted in a decreased responsiveness on the successive tests. Almost no spontaneous recovery occurred over periods ranging from 60 min to 15 days. The ineffectiveness of the additional trials are attributed to a general sensitization component that masks habituation. Data are discussed in relation to the 2-process model of habituation of R. F. Thompson et al (1973). (10 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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