Can a Pigeon Simultaneously Process Temporal and Numerical Information?

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On the basis of an experimental procedure first used with rats by W. H. Meck and R. M. Church (1983), pigeons were trained to discriminate between sequences of light flashes that varied in both total duration and number of flashes. Subsequent tests for number and time control showed that birds simultaneously processed temporal and numerical information and that degree of control by each dimension was affected by numerical discrimination training. Pigeons also learned to respond accurately to ambiguous flash sequences in which time and number indicated different responses. The use of postsequence cues to disambiguate these sequences indicated the selective retrieval of time and number information from working memory.

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